News media in Bluffton recently covered a Valentine’s Day incident in which a parked police cruiser, responding to single-vehicle crash involving a drunk driver at 2 a.m., was clipped by another drunk driver passing by.
Thankfully, the officer was not in his vehicle at the time so he avoided injury. Our North Carolina accident lawyers recognize that this case shows just how prevalent drunk drivers are on our roadways, and why tougher penalties may be the answer.
That’s why a number of state representatives are proposing no fewer than four bills to the legislature that would increase penalties for DWI offenders.
One of those measures is House Bill 43, which has passed its first reading and is now in the Appropriations Committee. If it became law, this measure would make it mandatory for all DWI offenders – not just repeat offenders – to have ignition interlock devices installed in the primary vehicle before driving privileges could be regained. These devices basically act as an in-car, personal breathalyzer for a convicted drunk driver, requiring him or her to blow into the recorder and pass a blood alcohol test before the vehicle can be operational.
A lot of people have taken a stance that first-time offenders should be cut some slack. But according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, by the time a person has his first DWI arrest, he’s already driven drunk behind the wheel 80 times. It’s not a risk we should be willing to take.
The second measure is House Bill 41. This law would set the blood alcohol content limit for convicted DWI offenders who have regained driving privileges at 0.00 percent, rather than the 0.08 percent for everyone else.
The other two proposals, House Bill 40 and House Bill 31, would essentially work to alter the definition of what it means to be a habitual impaired driver and the subsequent penalties for that. As it stands right now, prosecutors can charge a driver with being a habitually impaired motorist if that person has three or more DWI convictions within the previous decade. That label allows prosecutors to charge convicted drunk drivers with a Class C felony – regardless of whatever damage they may have caused – allowing for a minimum of 1 year of imprisonment.
House Bill 40 would reduce it so that prosecutors could charge someone with two prior DWI convictions as a habitual offender.
House Bill 31 would be even stricter, allowing that anyone with even one prior DWI conviction – regardless of how much time has elapsed – could be labeled a habitual offender.
These kinds of loopholes recently allowed a several-times-convicted drunk driver in Winston-Salem to be allowed back on the road with a clean driving record after he had been locked up for more than a decade.
Sponsors of these measures say they hope more than anything, they will be a deterrent. They also want to see those who play Russian roulette with everyone else’s lives to be appropriately punished.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Bluffton Police: Drunk driver strikes cruiser as officer responds to crash, Feb. 14, 2013, By Allison Stice, Island Packet
Lawmakers target drunken drivers, Feb. 17, 2013, By Corey Friedman, The Wilson Times
More Blog Entries:
Report: Carolina Drivers Don’t Think Safety Rules Apply to Them, Feb. 17, 2013, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog