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DWI Task Force Proposing Tougher Standards for Repeat Offenders

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RALEIGH — The Governor's DWI Task Force was formed more than four years ago. Since 1994, the members have been responsible for significant changes to drunk driving laws in our state.

On Friday, the group met to discuss several different proposals which they hope to take to theGeneral Assemblylater this year.

"You have to do things that are effective. After you are caught or killed or maimed on the highways, it's too late," said N.C. Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker.

One of the proposals is lowering the blood alcohol content for repeat offenders. The sub-committee is considering a proposal which would set the blood alcohol limit for repeat offenders at .04 for their second offense and at zero for any subsequent offenses.

Members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving say this is one law that should make drivers think twice.

"If you're going out to a party, someone in your group should be a designated driver. Then you can be a designated driver the next time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out," said Cheryl Jones,N.C. MADDpresident.

The idea has been modeled after a Maine law which has a .05 standard for repeat offenders. Fatalities involving repeat offenders have decreased in that state by 25 percent.

"If we can implement the same thing in North Carolina and have the same impact, we certainly are going to give that serious thought and recommend it to the General Assembly," said Wicker.

"You don't have a right to drive a car, so we're not talking about rights," says Sgt. Jeff Winstead of theN.C. Highway Patrol. "You have a privilege to drive an automobile, and if that privilege can be extended to you, you need to be obeying the rules."

If the law passes, one of the questions is how law enforcement officials would know that someone is a repeat offender and should be held to a different standard. Officials are talking about putting a special number on licenses that would reflect a driver's status.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Ken Bodine, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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