Hispanics Carry Lopsided Share of DWI Arrests

WRAL (Raleigh), May 2, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C.—WRAL has learned that 33 percent all drunken drivers arrested in Wake County are Hispanic, although the latest census numbers indicate that Hispanics make up only 7 percent of Wake County’s population.

This past weekend in Wake County, 69 people were arrested and charged with DWIs. Twenty-three of those drivers were Hispanic. While DWI is the most common charge, many of those charged with that face additional charges, such as driving without a valid license. People on both sides of this issue say more education is the key to helping solve this problem.

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“I definitely don’t want the police targeting me based upon how I look, and I don’t want them targeting me because I came out of a certain store or nightclub,” said defense attorney Ricardo Velasquez.

Velasquez said he believes racial profiling has something to do with the high numbers, but the statistics appear to be too high and too consistent to simply be the result of selective enforcement. And Velasquez agrees that his clients do not always understand the laws and their severity.

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