Local News

Tougher DWI Laws Take Effect Dec. 1

Posted November 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— On Monday, some of the country's toughest DWI laws will get even tougher.

The new laws in North Carolina are designed to punish drunk drivers, habitual drunk drivers, and anyone who lends them a car.

Earlier this year, 4-year-old Megan Dail and her family were on the road in Durham when a driver, later charged with drunken driving, smashed into them. Megan died.

Judy Wallace, a victim of a drunken driver and a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, knows the Dail family's pain first-hand.

"I was horrified, knowing what the family would be going through, what they would suffer over the years," Wallace told WRAL's Wisdom Martin.

Police say the driver, 36-year-old Timothy Blackwell, was drunk. He was also a repeat offender, they say, driving with a revoked license.

A new law that goes into effect Monday allows officers to seize cars driven by repeat DWI offenders with a revoked license. Wallace believes the changes will help.

"All those involved, who are working hard in enacting stronger laws, I appreciate it so much," she said.

Pat Rackley lost her only son in 1982 when a drunken driver slammed into his car. She's glad to see the state take a stronger stance on drunk driving and hopes people will think twice before lending their cars to people who get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

"If we can just save one life," Rackley said, "just one life, another Megan, or anybody, or an injury, it will be worth it."

Authorities say the new law will mean more DWI arrests.

In the past three years the number of DWI's on North Carolina's highways have been on the decline. In 1994, nearly 49,000 people were charged with DWI in this state. That number fell to 46,000 in 1995 and just under 45,000 in 1996.