Local News

General Assembly Reviews Penalties for Repeat D.W.I

Posted March 5, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— As Tar Heel legislators study how to put the brakes on habitual drunk drivers, there's new information on last week's wreck in which an allegedly drunk driver slammed into a family's van, killing a four-year-old girl.

Durham police say a concerned driver called 911 from a cellphone minutes before the accident. The caller warned of a weaving driver, saying a mailbox had just been hit, and concluding with what would be prophetic words, "He's going to kill someone."

Unfortunately, officers did not have time to respond before the van in which Megan Dail was riding was hit.

At the General Assembly, several proposal are on the table related to the issue of drunk driving.

The main focus of the legislation, which includes proposals on expanding the DARE program into high schools and increasing treatment for substance abuse, would be to take away repeat offenders' vehicles, put them in jail, keep them in jail and treat them in jail.

Lt. Governor Dennis Wicker said there have been too many innocent people killed by drunk drivers.

Wicker said the timing is right for tougher legislation. College student Shannon Bailey lost two friends in a similar accident. She says she knows how the Dail family feels.

Lawmakers are proposing a mandatory one-year sentence and treatment for habitual offenders. They also want to see offenders' vehicles impounded. Cheryl Jones of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says that will make it harder for the offenders to get behind the wheel.

Lawmakers say they want to impound the vehicle even if it doesn't belong to the offender. That, they say, will make people think harder about lending a car to someone who shouldn't be driving.