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New DWI Laws are in Full Force

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Officers say things are improving. But that doesn't change the grimstatistics about drinking and driving in North Carolina. Just in 1996,over 400 people died in alcohol-related crashes. In 1996, there were11,000 people injured in the same crashes.

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