Forsyth County DWI court to hear first case Tuesday

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- As of Tuesday, Forsyth County will be only the second county in the state to have its own DWI Court with a special prosecutor and judge and court days set aside just for the county's backlog of cases.

Wake County already has one in place.

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill says the county has nearly 1,000 cases waiting to be tried. In some cases, waiting for blood evidence tests pushes the trial back months even years.

O'Neill received a grant from The Governor's Highway Safety Program for $147,000 to pay for a DWI prosecutor, legal assistant and clerk. A judge will also be assigned to the court.

"We have seen a huge number, a big increase in our DWI arrests and now if we have a courtroom dedicated solely to those cases we can go after drunk drivers more quickly," O'Neill says.

The court is the final piece to the county's DWI Task Force. All county agencies have teamed up and provided some of their officers to focus solely on DWI arrests and check points in recent months.

The North Carolina Executive Director for MADD, LaRonda Scott, says the court is good news because it mean's offenders will suffer the consequences of their crime sooner and keep them off the roads.

"In terms of them being caught, them having to go to court, the financial aspect of it, them spending time in jail, all of that plays a role in them thinking about making a better decision," she said.

The DWI court will begin Tuesday in courtroom 4A at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice. It will run every Tuesday and Thursday.

There are 31 cases are on Tuesday's docket.

"When everybody is concentrating and focusing on same thing we get better results," O'Neill says.

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