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Proposal would toughen North Carolina DWI law

Though North Carolina has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation, some people want penalties made even harsher. The legislative Child Fatality Task Force recently voted in support of a proposal to add a requirement for ignition interlock device installation for all those convicted of DWI (also known as DUI), including first offense violators.

Proposal advocates say that drunk driving continues to plague North Carolina and that tougher measures are called for. They note that more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the state are related to impaired drivers.

According to a news article, 402 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2016 in North Carolina. That was 28 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities that year.

A public health official said research indicates that the average alcohol-impaired driver has driven while under the influence about 80 times before they are first arrested. She added that a 2016 survey indicated that nearly 3 percent of adults admitted to drinking and driving in the month prior to taking the survey.

More alarming, she said, was that 18.4 percent of high school students said they had been in a vehicle in the past month with someone who had been drinking at the wheel.

An ignition interlock device requires a driver to blow into the system. If alcohol is detected in the driver's system, the vehicle will not start and cannot be driven.

The official said it is hard to fool the device.

Of course, critics of the ignition interlock systems note that sometimes the systems detect false readings of alcohol. Those false positives can be trigged by certain types of foods and beverages.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, speak to an attorney experienced in DWI defense before talking to a prosecutor.

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