Double DWI case could mean changes to state laws

December 29, 2011 3:35:29 PM PST
An I-Team investigation could prompt changes at the Wake County Jail. The changes come after a story earlier this week involving a man who was arrested twice in four hours for DWI.

An I-Team investigation could prompt changes at the Wake County Jail. The changes come after a story earlier this week involving a man who was arrested twice in four hours for DWI.

Right now, if you're arrested for drunk driving, there's a good chance you may still be drunk when you're released. That paved the way for Tom Carey's double DWI last week.

Now, that case has Wake County officials talking about whether people should be released when they're still drunk.

Carey was pulled over for DWI Dec. 21 then released. He took a cab back to his car and then drove back to the home he was staying in where police were waiting for him to arrest him again.

The decision to release Carey has come under fire this week. Thursday, Wake County's clerk of court told ABC11 that it was a decision that will be reviewed. It could possibly prompt changes in how magistrates conduct business.

"Maybe the statutes need to be revised," said Wake County Clerk of Court Lorrin Freeman. "Tightening up perhaps on the amount of discretion that is currently provided in the statute and trying to make a determination as to what constitutes danger to self and others, is something that we will be looking at and is something that we may make recommendations to the legislature about."

Freeman nominates and helps train judicial magistrates. Magistrates set bond and release people when they're first arrested. In DWI cases, magistrates can release people, still drunk, if they're not a danger to themselves or others.

"We do not want to set up a situation where somebody is released back into the public and put in a position where they're intoxicated that they can cause harm to the public," said Freeman.

That is apparently what happened in the Carey case. Less than two hours after he blew a 0.28, Carey took a cab to his car and drove home. 

That's why Freeman says Wake County will be looking closely at the decision to release Carey. They will also consider changes to how magistrates are trained.

"We are talking about going back and going through some of that training again," said Freeman.

Freeman isn't alone, advocating for a stricter state laws. Wake County's district attorney and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have said much of the same thing -- that people shouldn't be released still drunk on their own recognizance and that the state should do more to see that doesn't happen.

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