Over the past month members of the State House have proposed a number of bills with the goal of increasing the punishment on those convicted of DUI.
House Bill 41 would impact high risk first time offenders (those who blow over .15). First-time offenders currently can receive limited driving privileges that usually last for a period of three years. Drivers with a limited privilege are required to equip their vehicles with a device that measures blood/alcohol content (BAC) before the car may be started.
The current BAC limit to start one of these devices is 0.04 percent but the bill filed by Rep. Darren Jackson of Raleigh proposes that drivers may not have any alcohol in their systems to drive.
The new requirement would change the .04 threshold to a flat .00. This limit will likely require the user to avoid products that contain any alcohol whatsoever (e.g. mouth wash or cough syrup) in order to prevent false positive readings.
There are also two House bills aimed at addressing perceived loopholes in the Habitual driving laws. House Bill 31 would amend G.S. 20-138.5 to add a new theory of habitual DWI, namely, driving while impaired while having “been previously convicted of the offense of habitual impaired driving.” This plainly means that once you have been convicted of habitual impaired driving ANY future DWI offense could trigger the habitual charge should the DA choose to pursue it. House bill 40 would amend G.S. 20-138.5 to require only two, rather than three, previous DWI convictions in the previous 10 years to support a charge of habitual.
These are very significant changes to a set of laws that are already comparatively tough on DUI. We’ll update the blog when/if these Bills pass through the Senate and become ratified.