North Carolina politicians in Raleigh have been debating toughening impaired driving rules, but skeptics are concerned that social drinkers and first time offenders could suffer. The proposals include a mandate for ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of a DUI.
Sen. Floyd McKissick noted last week that if someone has just one drink too many at a party, this could lead to a DUI and a permanent criminal record, as well as the inconvenience and expense of the interlock device.
An ignition interlock is an important public safety tool required for many convicted drunk drivers. It checks the breath of the driver before allowing the vehicle to be started. North Carolina currently requires interlocks for 11,000 convicted drunk drivers who have had multiple offenses. Some convicted drunk drivers also refused to take a blood alcohol test or blew a .15, which is double the legal limit.
NC Senate Bill 619 would mandate interlocks for any person whose driving privileges are restored after a DUI that involved blowing a .08 or more. Supporters say that the devices save many lives.
According to the state director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 92% of drunk drivers in fatal wrecks were first time offenders. That organization says that the first timer is just as dangerous as the regular drunk driver.
It is thought that lowering the DUI interlock threshold from .15 to .08 would mean that about 19,000 more drivers per year would have to have ignition interlocks. Some legislators think there should be a compromise in the area of .10 or .11. Others say that the stricter interlock rule would get more drunks off the roads and reduce car fatalities, which numbered 349 in North Carolina in 2014.
Our personal injury law firm has a no tolerance policy for drunk drivers. Our firm only represents those who were injured or killed by convicted drunk drivers; we never will represent the drunk driver. We do our best in every case to win as much compensation as possible for the injured or the family of the deceased: for medical bills, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and sometimes punitive damages if the drunk driver was especially negligent.
We generally support tougher DUI laws for Virginia and North Carolina. If more ignition interlocks on more convicted drunk drivers’ cars will save lives, it is something that we support.