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Drunk Driving Bill Passed in Senate

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Millbrook High School students lead a march to the Raleigh Capitol.
RALEIGH — Drunk drivers have something to fear as North Carolina legislators close in on a tough, new DWI law. Thursdayafternoon, a drunk driving bill passed the state Senate in its last bighurdle 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 to1, after having been the subject of much debate Wednesday. This actionends a long, painful wait for families such as Greg and Sherry Dail,whose 4-year-olddaughter Megan was killed in a collision involving a habitual drunkendriver. The Dailssay 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 roadto this point. In early spring, Millbrook High School held a march andrally in support of the legislation.

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

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

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

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