Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Thursday for tighter alcohol restrictions for people convicted of impaired driving.
Under current law, someone convicted of driving while impaired has limited driving privileges for a year and then can get a restricted license.
If they've been convicted of multiple DWIs or had very high blood-alcohol levels, they're restricted to 0.00 BAC – no alcohol at all in their system when they're behind the wheel.
Drivers with less serious DWIs are restricted to no more than 0.04 blood-alcohol content while driving – half the 0.08 level at which drivers are considered impaired under state law.
"That says you can continue to drink and drive, just don’t drink as much," said Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, sponsor of House Bill 41.
Jackson's bill would expand the zero-tolerance law to all DWI drivers with restricted licenses.
“It’s just telling folks, 'Hey, you’ve made a mistake. Don’t do it again. Don’t drink and drive these three years,'” Jackson said.
The measure passed the House 109-1. It now goes to the Senate.
Jackson is sponsoring a second bill that would require ignition interlock systems for all DWI offenders, not just for repeat offenders. That bill, House Bill 536, is currently in committee.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is backing both proposals.
The House passed a third DWI-related bill sponsored by Jackson last month.
That proposal would move the trigger for a habitual impaired driving charge from three previous DWI convictions in a 10-year period to two convictions.
According to MADD, 413 people were killed in North Carolina in alcohol-related incidents in 2012.