Local News

Drunk Driving Bill Passed in Senate

Posted June 5, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Drunk drivers have something to fear as North Carolina legislators close in on a tough, new DWI law. Thursday afternoon, a drunk driving bill passed the state Senate in its last big hurdle before it becomes law. The bill goes next to Gov. Jim Hunt, and he has already said he will sign it into law.

The bill sailed through the Senate Thursday, passing by a vote of 46 to 1, after having been the subject of much debate Wednesday. This action ends a long, painful wait for families such as Greg and Sherry Dail, whose 4-year-old daughter Megan was killed in a collision involving a habitual drunken driver. The Dails say their daughter's memory will live on in this new law.

For the Dails and other supporters of the DWI bill, it was a long road to this point. In early spring, Millbrook High School held a march and rally in support of the legislation.

Having already been approved by the state House, the bill now will return there for a final approval of small changes the Senate made, but there is little doubt that it will become law. Among the many provisions the bill containss is a mandate that a repeat offender's vehicle be confiscated, even if it doesn't belong to the driver. The bill also imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. Some legislators argued Wednesday to make the bill even tougher, but most said this is as tough as it will get for now.

Karyn Brown of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says North Carolina is serving as a role model for other states looking to toughen their drunk driving laws.

After the House review and official passage by Hunt, the new law will go into effect Dec. 1.