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As habitual drunk driver goes to prison, DWI court goes away

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County man may spend more than a decade behind bars for driving drunk again and again. District Attorney Jon David says the county’s DWI court is to thank for Wilbur Brown’s sentence, but the program faces the chopping block.

Most drivers fear getting even one DWI. Brown has eight. He has already served two years behind bars for his drunk driving, but now he will spend between nine and 11.5 years in prison.

“We were able to focus on his status and the case that was put in front of us because of his habitual status to make sure he never drives again and hopefully save some lives,” Assistant DA Cathi Radford said.

David says he understands that DWIs can happen and everyone makes mistakes, but he says Brown’s habitual crimes were inexcusable.

“In Brunswick County, a lot of our ‘murder’ cases are not guns and knives. It’s people driving cars while they’re impaired,” David said. “So when you have a person that’s done eight DWIs and haven’t learned their lesson? We’re going to aggressively prosecute them and take that case and give it something special.”

David is proud of his team for their efforts in Brown’s case, but he is worried about the future of the program. He says the state had to cut funding that allowed Brunswick County to have a separate DWI court. Those cases will no longer get the same attention they do now.

“The criminal justice system will be fine at the end of the day,” David said. “My people have learned to do more with less. We’re just going to have to work smarter, not necessarily harder, to identify the right defendants towards the courtrooms we already have.”

David says come October, DWI court will no longer exist in Brunswick County. He says that not only inconveniences the court system. It also means some rearranging of jobs so people stay employed.

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