Local News

New DWI Laws are in Full Force

Posted December 20, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Durham County police have confiscated five cars since the state's new DWI laws took effect. The new laws are making party-goers plan ahead this holiday. Under the new law, police can confiscate a drunk driver's car at the time of arrest.

North Carolina is cracking down on drunk drivers. If you're a repeat offender, officers can seize your car for good if you're convicted. A first-time offender can face up to six months behind bars.

Most people find themselves at some holiday gathering at this time of the year. The question is, have the new DWI laws raised awareness among party-goers? A group of people WRAL's Len Besthoff visited say they already hold themselves to a high standard.

Martha Michaux says she and her husband know so many people that have been arrested for DWI that they are especially conscious of the consequences.

Others have approached state troopers to find out the penalties for first-time and repeat offenders.

Trooper William Dancy, Jr. says he and his fellow law enforcement officials have been asked about the new laws and what can happen. Dancy believes the word is getting out.

Like the group WRAL visited, many people try to find a plan for their partying and stick to it.

David Mason says he's staying put at the party overnight. He made plans to spend the night before he picked up an alcoholic beverage. Normally, Mason says, his group of friends will designate a driver, or else take a cab.

Officers say things are improving. But that doesn't change the grim statistics about drinking and driving in North Carolina. Just in 1996, over 400 people died in alcohol-related crashes. In 1996, there were 11,000 people injured in the same crashes.

If you think there are a lot of troopers on the roads for the preholiday weekend, just wait until Monday. That's when the Highway Patrol's DWI initiative goes into action. The program encourages troopers to focus on stopping drunk drivers, so accidents like this don't happen.