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NC House panel passes tougher DWI punishments

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Anyone convicted of impaired driving in North Carolina under certain aggravating factors would face more time behind bars and higher fines in legislation that has cleared a House committee.

A House judiciary panel recommended Wednesday a bill called "Laura's Law," named after a Gaston County teenager killed in a wreck last summer. A motorist charged in the accident already had multiple impaired driving convictions.

The bill would require an impaired driving offender to receive a one- to three-year prison sentence if there are three grossly aggravating factors - like the person is a repeat offender or caused serious injury. The toughest current punishment requires at least 30 days in jail.

The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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