DWI Conviction Rate Increases Following ‘Charlotte Observer’ Investigation

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(AP) North Carolina?convictions for driving while intoxicated have jumped in the year since The Charlotte Observer looked at the acquittal of thousands of defendants who tested above the state’s blood alcohol limit.

The August 2004 series showed North Carolina judges acquitted more than a third of defendants who went to trial after testing over the state-mandated limit of?.08 percent.

The newspaper reports that since the report, the statewide conviction rate has risen from 63% to 71%.

The newpaper’s reporting last year prompted state Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Junior to instruct District Court judges not to make prosecutors’ burden of proof in DWI cases more difficult than the law requires.

The conviction rate in Mecklenburg, the state’s most populous county, rose from 61% to 79%. In Wake County, the DWI trial conviction rate nearly tripled from 17% to 50%.

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