Mismanagement of the criminal justice system letting drunk drivers off the hook:
Drunk driving is a statewide crisis. In 2012, 413 people were killed and 8,471 injured in North Carolina in crashes where alcohol impairment was involved, according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. “They are not even testing blood anymore because the analysts they did have working there all left,” James McMinn, an assistant public defender who handles DWI cases, told the Journal. “North Carolina is not willing to pay these highly trained and highly qualified people,” Joseph R. John Sr., the director of the State Crime Lab, told the Journal. They’re leaving for higher-paying jobs in the private sector, he said.
The next shoe to drop will undoubtedly be the privatization of this critical function, so those tax dollars can line the pockets of those who will, in turn, toss some of those dollars into campaign war chests. Meanwhile, you might want to approach intersections a little more carefully, and make sure those oncoming headlights aren't crossing over into your lane. Here's more on this problem:
A court considering a defendant’s motion to dismiss on speedy trial must assess four factors: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason for the delay; (3) the defendant’s assertion of his or her right to a speedy trial; and (4) prejudice to the defendant. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530 (1972). The length of the delay is a triggering mechanism. When the delay reaches a threshold that is presumptively prejudicial, the court must inquire into the other factors. Given that delays approaching one year are considered to trigger this threshold for purposes of felony charges, see Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647, 671 (1992), and “the delay that can be tolerated for an ordinary street crime is considerably less than for a serious, complex conspiracy charge,” see Barker, 407 U.S. at 531, the postponement of misdemeanor impaired driving trials for periods approaching a year to allow time for laboratory toxicology testing easily triggers examination of the remaining three factors.
And from the comments (these folks are almost exclusively prosecuting attorneys):
As an ADA in the western part of the state, my experience with lab delays has been horrible. If the sample is from a death by vehicle we can get it in about six months, but for anything else our samples are not even getting assigned to an analyst until well past the one year point, and lately they are approaching two years with no action. For DWI’s and chemical analysis of controlled substances, for at least the last two years we have not received a test in under twelve months and are frequently having to dismiss at the one year point when the motion to dismiss is denied and then just hold the file to recharge if we receive the lab test before the statute of limitations run out. We’ve called the labs many times to check on the status of a sample, but always get the same response – if it involves a fatality, it will probably be completed in 12 months or less...
Here in Wake County, the delays seem to routinely be longer than 1 year. Specifically for blood-drug cases, the delays are as long as 2 years or longer. Surprisingly, I have not seen many double jeopardy motions filed...
We have been told by SBI no new blood results will be issued for at least 2 years for DWI...
I heard an officer testify in court a few days ago all of the blood analysts at the SBI lab quit except for one person. Can that be true?? Anybody heard similar?
This is not just a bureaucratic mix-up, it's a crisis. A crisis that is not being addressed by law-n-order Republicans.
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