Local News

New DWI Laws Clogging Court System

Posted February 5, 1998

— North Carolina has been cracking down on drunk drivers, proving that the state's new laws have teen. Recent legislation allows the cars of convicted repeat offenders to be seized and turned over to local school districts, where they are sold.

But the new laws are also creating some backlogs in the court system, so the state's DWI task force is trying to do something about the problem.

Court backups mean it could take months for drunk driving cases to be resolved, so school districts can be left hanging on to cars that end up costing them money rather than generating profit. When schools take possession of the vehicles, they have to pay for towing and storage costs.

At a Friday morning task force meeting, school leaders came up with ideas to help districts lower costs. For example, Richmond County contracted out the work to the lowest bidder for a flat fee.

Richmond County School Superintendent Herman Williams says pricing guidelines have been set.

Task force members also talked about ways to move drunk driving cases through the courts faster, so school districts can sell seized cars and collect their money.

Also on Friday's agenda was a proposal to crack down on truck drivers who drive drunk. The task force wants state legislators to pass a zero-tolerance law for commercial drivers. That means they can have no alcohol in their systems -- not even a small amount. Under the proposal, if commercial drivers are convicted of just one offense, they lose their commercial licenses for life.

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