Man's 17th DWI In NC; Gets Him Only 7 Years In Prison

10:52 PM, Aug 11, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Ronnie Burdette Dodd (Photo: NCDOC)
 PDF Document: Ronnie Dodd Criminal History

Asheville, NC-- A Swannanoa man will spend at least seven years in prison following his 17th conviction for Driving While Impaired over the past three decades.

Ronnie Burdette Dodd's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he was pulled over on Old U.S. 70 on Jan. 29.

Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore told the Asheville Citizen Times that the case should serve as a warning that his office is serious about prosecuting drunk drivers, but he wishes state law carried harsher penalties with mandatory jail time for first offenders.

"It's just a blessing that (Dodd) didn't have a wreck and someone didn't get seriously injured or killed," Moore said. "We have too many impaired drivers who get into wrecks and kill or maim innocent people."

Dodd, 55, of Northeast Avenue, pleaded guilty in Buncombe County Superior Court to habitual driving while impaired, driving while license revoked and being a habitual felon. He was sentenced last week to 87-117 months in state prison.

Buncombe County led the state with 28 habitual DWI convictions for the year ending June 30, according to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. Sampson County was second with 15, while Wake County had 12.

An offender can be prosecuted for habitual DWI on his fourth impaired driving offense within 10 years. A conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in jail.

Dodd's Record via NC Dept of Corrections

"That is strictly a prosecutor-driven charge," Moore said. "We look at everybody's DWI record to see if you qualify as a habitual impaired driver. Clearly you are a menace to society because you keep driving drunk on the highway."

Moore said Dodd's first impaired driving offense was in 1983. He's been convicted of habitual impaired driving three times.

In the most recent incident, Dodd had a blood-alcohol content of 0.24 percent. The legal limit for driving in North Carolina is 0.08 percent.

It's unusual for a defendant to receive such a significant prison term for impaired driving. Moore said the length of the sentence was due mostly to his conviction as a habitual felon.

Moore said he'd like to see first-time offenders sentenced to jail.

"In North Carolina for a first offense you don't serve a minute in jail," he said. "You generally get a 60-day suspended sentence. You can get a limited driving privilege, and you have to do 24 hours of community service.

"There is not a lot of deterrent value. If you had to spend a week in jail, then maybe it would deter you from that behavior."

Most Watched Videos