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New law gives cops added tool if suspects flee

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Local law enforcement leaders are speaking out about a North Carolina law that went into effect late last year regarding fleeing motorists.
According to the N.C. General Assembly website, Governor Purdue signed House Bill 427, also known as “Run and You’re Done,” in June. The bill became law on Dec. 1, 2011.
Under the law, motorists who’ve been charged with a felony offense and who attempt to elude arrest will have their vehicle confiscated until completion of a trial.
The vehicle will be returned to any individual who is not convicted. However, if an offender is found guilty in a court of law, the vehicle will remain in custody of the local Sheriff’s Office to be auctioned off at a later date, with funds benefiting the local school system.
The vehicle will also be returned to any owner who is both not a defendant and is able to prove that at the time of the offense, the defendant wasn’t a family member, was under the age of 19 and had no prior convictions or pending violations for the last three years.
According to Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter, deputies impounded their first car under the new law earlier this month. Despite his praise of the new piece of legislation, he believes parts of it still need to be “tweaked.”
“I would have preferred that it follow the DWI seizure and storage laws that have been on the books for years,” he said.
In addition, Carpenter said the new law placed “another burden” on the Sheriff’s Office since it is the only area agency responsible for vehicle storage, including storage of all vehicles confiscated by the Lincolnton Police Department.
Police Chief Rodney Jordan also voiced his view of the law, saying any offenders who put people in danger by eluding arrest should lose use of their vehicles.
City officers have encountered no vehicle chases since the law took effect, and Jordan hopes the stats stay low.
“Knock on wood,” he said. “I hope it’s not something we have to deal with often because chases … can be so dangerous for the officer, suspects and civilians.”
For more information on the law, visit http://www.ncleg.net.

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