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North Carolina DWI: ignition interlocks for all offenders?

Twenty six states now mandate that convicted drunk drivers install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) on their vehicles, even after a first drunk driving-related offense.

North Carolina is not one of those states -- yet.

Rather than joining the crowd by imposing a universal IID requirement, North Carolina authorities have been more restrained in their take on who should be subjected to the exactions of an interlock device.

Consequently, state law currently provides that IID installation applies only in select instances, namely these:

  • For drivers convicted of repeat DWI offenses
  • For first-time offenders who were high-blood alcohol content offenders (0.15 or above, almost double the legal limit for drunk driving)
  • For motorists who refuse to take a BAC breath test

For some state lawmakers, this is not enough. Some legislators favor universal IID application, arguing that installation is a proven deterrent.

Others cite drawbacks.

One criticism is that ensnaring every driver in the state who blows a threshold 0.08 is unfair and cumbersome. As one lawmaker notes, the exactions of an IID can seem flatly excessive for many persons who simply had one extra drink while socializing and who are interacting with legal authorities for the first time.

Another pointed-to downside: The costs associated with IID installation and ongoing fees can hurt lower-income individuals in a singularly painful way.

And then there's this, as pointed out by one commentator: Many first-time offenders will opt to fight their DWI charge in court, given the "scarlet-letter" connotations of mandated IID installation. North Carolina courts already suffer from a backlog of DWI cases, which will only grow worse if the IID law is amended to provide for universal application.

Drunk driving laws are both complex and onerous in North Carolina, with aspects relating to IID installation being only one component among many relevant factors that can surface in a material way.

Questions and concerns relating to a drunk driving stop, arrest or conviction can be directed to a proven criminal defense attorney experienced in providing strong advocacy in DWI matters.

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