Proposed Bill Gives DUI Money To Trauma Centers
Posted August 13, 2002
RALEIGH, N.C. — A proposed bill could force those who drive drunk or recklessly to help pay for the patients they injure.
Health officials say trauma is the leading cause of death for people under age 34 in North Carolina. They say drunken or reckless drivers cause up to 40 percent of trauma cases.
A proposed bill would require people convicted of DWI or reckless driving to pay $150 to get their licenses back. Of that money, $100 would go to the state's trauma centers.
"Hold people accountable for endangering our highways. Let's send them a clear message that we're not going to put up with this anymore, and if they're going to do it and endanger our highways, then they need to pay for the trauma system they're creating," said Sen. Charles Carter, D-Buncombe County.
Physicians, nurses, and paramedics gathered in front of UNC Hospitals Tuesday to support the proposal.
"We have allocated an entire team that responds to the severely injured patients," said Arvilla Stiffler, clinical director of the hospital's trauma program.
Many hospitals are not so lucky. In rural areas, trauma centers are closing due to lack of funding. Many patients are transported to UNC and other regional trauma centers. If passed, money from the bill would train rural trauma teams and provide them with the support and equipment they need to treat patients.
"Instead of basic EMS systems, we could provide for advanced life-support for those counties," Stiffler said.
The money would also be used to improve patient transport times because even a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.
Three of the state's nine Level I and II trauma centers are in the Triangle. There are only two in eastern North Carolina in Pitt and New Hanover counties.