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North Carolina’s Current and Future Interlock Ignition Laws

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sand the U.S. Congress have agreed in unison that ignition interlock in vehicles be  made a mandatory requirement for anyone convicted of a DWI, including first time offenders. NTSB and Congress also believe that this power should rest with the states, allowing each state to craft their own mandatory requirements.

Specifically, according to the safety bill adopted by Congress last year, states will be given federal grants in order to aid the ignition interlock, ensuring that each state can comply with the requirement if desired. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, Pub. L. 112-141. ( U.S.)(2011). The bill was introduced after a special investigation into vehicle crashes, resulting from intoxicated drivers travelling down the wrong way of the roadways. The NTSB ultimately concluded that installing the interlock ignition would greatly reduce the amount of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

There are three instances in which the state of North Carolina currently requires ignition interlock as a condition of regaining one’s driver’s license: (1) the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more; (2) the person was convicted of another offense, involving impaired driving within seven years of the offense for which the person’s license is revoked; or (3), the person was sentenced at an “Aggravated Level One,” which is the highest level of punishment one can receive for a misdemeanor DWI. Thus, our state’s system is currently not as rigid as the NTSB requirement. In order to comply with the requirement and be awarded federal money, North Carolina would have to expand the mandatory interlock ignition requirement to all persons charged with a DWI.

In order to jumpstart production of the ignition interlock, the NTSB and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration have united to begin working to develop this “high tech” equipment through a cooperative research program referred to as the DADSS program.

The DADSS system is opposed to the current interlock ignition, believing that it is too burdensome on the use by widespread public. DADDSS thinks the current system, which requires the driver to blow into a breathalyzer every time they start the car, is an extremely intrusive system.

Thus, DADSS has created two less intrusive alternatives for the interlock ignition. The first system would be a touch-based approach, measuring the person’s alcohol concentration by their skin. The second would be similar to the breathalyzer, however rather than “blowing,” sensors would be used to test the driver’s breath on the exhale.

Many in support of the DADSS system believe that this maybe one of the few times in which the government can utilize technology to prevent a crime, without “unduly burdening the individual freedom.” If they are correct, there could be no constitutional violations raised, and serious injury and deaths due to drunk drivers may be greatly reduced, to the benefit of all drivers alike.

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, driving under suspension, or any other alcohol related charge, call the law offices of Reeves Aiken & Hightower for a consultation.  We know that a DUI can determine the next year or so of a person’s life; therefore, it is important for you to get proper representation.  Call us at 704-499-9000, or toll-free at 877-374-5999.