"There's not a whole lot you can do, but keep them in jail and that costs a lot of money," said Ike Avery, who served on Gov. Mike Easley's DWI Task Force.
Avery said when lawmakers revised sentencing years ago, drunken driving was not included. Instead of serving a full one-year sentence for his ninth DWI, Maready left jail in just a matter of months. The problem was task force members learned those longer sentences would cost taxpayers an additional $100 million.
Task force member Michael Eisen said only about half of convicted drunken drivers show up for court-ordered alcohol education or treatment. The group wants tougher monitoring and sanctions for those who do not comply.
"If we can get more people into treatment, we have a shot to do something, but we can't do anything unless we have a chance to work with them," he said.
DWI task force members believe their recommendations will make the justice system stronger, but not infallible.
"Educate them, treat them, do whatever we can do, but we clearly can't have a police officer riding around with everybody to prevent them from driving when they shouldn't," Avery said.
One problem the DWI Task Force said it did not try to tackle is identity fraud. Maready used different aliases and Social Security numbers when he was caught. Officials said that is a challenge law enforcement and the DMV are struggling to address.
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