A series of proposed laws before the North Carolina General Assembly would further strengthen North Carolina’s efforts to stop drunk driving, and would enhance punishments for those who commit multiple DWIs within a 10 year period.
The bills, scheduled to be considered during this year’s “short session,” are likely to be passed, especially in light of an uptick in recent years of accidents in North Carolina associated with driving while impaired.
Under current North Carolina law, a person convicted of three or more DWIs in the past 10 years (as measured from conviction date for the oldest, and offense date for the current DWI) can be prosecuted under the felony habitual DWI law. House Bill 40 (PDF) would reduce the number of prior convictions necessary from three to two in 10 years.
House Bill 31 (PDF) would amend the habitual DWI law to make the defendant eligible for a new Habitual DWI conviction if convicted of a new DWI following a prior conviction for habitual DWI, regardless of how long ago it took place.
House Bill 41 (PDF) would require people convicted of a single DWI to not have any alcohol in their system for three years following the restoration of their driving privileges. The bill amends N.C.G.S. 20-19 to reduce the BAC concentration restriction from the current .04 to a .00.
If the law passes, then, effectively, a person convicted of a DWI cannot drive with any alcohol in his or her system for four years – the year during which his license is revoked and he is on a limited driving privilege, and the three subsequent years of a .00 restriction.
Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the arm of the federal government that is chiefly responsible for encouraging and funding state initiatives to reduce driving while impaired, published a toolkit (PDF) of recommended laws and regulations that states are urged to adopt.
You can expect to see some of these tools adopted by North Carolina in coming years, including, in all likelihood, the Interlock requirement for all DWIs or at least all DWIs involving a .08 or above.