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N.C. Takes Steps To Put Brakes On Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders

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RALEIGH — North Carolina has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation. A new set of laws and a new device make it even harder for repeat offenders to share the road with motorists.

Megan DailandDanny Deaversare two examples of victims who have been hit and killed by repeat drunk drivers.

"The problem of habitual offenders tends to be growing. Those folks tend to be the most dangerous," says Wake County district attorney Colon Willoughby.

A new law is designed to minimize the danger of drunk drivers and make our roads safer. According to the law, people who are convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of .16 will be required to install an ignition-interlock system or breathanalyzer in their car.

"If you fail, you would hear an obnoxious noise and you wouldn't start your vehicle," says Jerry Mobley of Monitech

With a 0.01 lockout value, the device makes sure the driver is alcohol-free before getting behind the wheel. If the driver fails, the car will lockup for 5 minutes. If the second attempt fails, there will be a 30-minute lockout.

Once on the road, random breath tests will be required. If the drivers fails that, an obnoxious siren will sound until the car is stopped.

"The reason for that is to try to reduce or eliminate curbside assistance where someone would take the test and let you drive off," Mobley says. The idea behind the car breathalyzers is to put the brakes on repeat offenders.

"To the lives it saves How do you put a price on that?" -->

Officials expect as many as 15,000 people across the state will have to have one of those devices installed within the next year. The driver will have to pick up the cost. It will cost $70 for installation and $50 a month for a year.

North Carolina's effort to get habitual drunk drivers off the road extends beyond new devices inside their cars.

A new state law that went into effect Saturday reduces the legal blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.04 for people who have been convicted of one DWI. The new restriction also applies to drivers who have had their licenses reinstated.

There will also be zero tolerance for those convicted of a second DWI offense.

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Julia Lewis, Reporter
Lynn French, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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