COLUMBUS, BRUNSWICK, and BLADEN COUNTIES (WECT) - A long day for people who have court in Columbus, Bladen, and Brunswick Counties could get even longer.
Until this month, the three counties had DWI court. But prosecutors in the 13th District lost a grant with the Governor's Highway Safety Program, which allowed them to have DWI court.
"We actually had two judges who were considered emergency judges who came and helped deal with those DWI court dates. Right now we have six district court judges we have to share with three counties," Jamie Turnage, an assistant DA for the 13th District, said.
Brunswick County used to have DWI court at least every Thursday, Columbus twice a month and Bladen County once a month.
Now people charged with driving while impaired go to court with everyone else, which is causing an inconvenience.
"We had several days where court was held until 7:30pm or 10pm last week. It's absolutely harder. A lot of the officers work shifts that are 8am to 5pm or 9am to 5pm, when they're on day shift. You got guys who have to stay until 9pm or 10pm. That puts them in overtime. It's also hard when you have witnesses who come to court, or even people who get the DWI they don't expect to wait in court all day." Said Turnage.
She tells us, they are trying to incorporate ideas to help speed up the amount of time people spend in court.
"We're looking, beginning in January to start having some DWI court dates back into the system. But to do that we have to sacrifice criminal court dates for DWI court dates." Added Turnage.
She says, they're also working with law enforcement agencies to get officers' court dates scheduled so they can limit the number of cases they have on certain days.
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