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Could Ignition Interlocks Reduce Drunk Driving Crashes in Raleigh?

Dan Brian   |  November 5, 2015   |  

When a person makes the decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol, lives are put at risk. Drunk driving accidents are far too common in Raleigh, throughout North Carolina and across the United States. Thousands of people have been injured or lost their lives unnecessarily in crashes caused by intoxicated drivers. What makes these accidents so devastating is that they are entirely avoidable.

Unfortunately, not all drivers can be trusted to make the choice to designate a sober driver, call a cab or ask a friend for a lift. Some believe that they are able to drive even when they are under the influence of alcohol.

Interlock laws are one of the ways North Carolina is cracking down on drunk drivers, helping to reduce the dangers posed by drinking and driving, and allowing motorists to get back on the road legally and safely after being convicted of a drunk driving offense.

 The problem is serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers account for close to one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S. In fact, around 30 people each day suffer fatal injuries in alcohol-related accidents.

Those who are most at risk for drunk driving accidents are young, inexperienced drivers, motorcyclists and drivers with prior drunk driving convictions. Interlock ignition devices (IIDs) can play a role in helping deter drunk drivers and prevent serious accidents in Raleigh and across the state.

North Carolina Interlock Laws

In North Carolina, DWI offenders may be required to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle. Repeat offenders may be required by law to operate only motor vehicles in which an approved and functioning IID has been installed, and they must activate the interlock system before driving.

Under N.C. law, the interlock device uses the level of a person’s alcohol concentration to restrict the ability to drive based upon the offense. For example:

  • First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher may not be allowed to drive if the concentration of alcohol in their system is 0.04 percent or greater.
  • Drivers who have been convicted or sentenced for alcohol-impaired offenses in the past are not allowed to drive with an alcohol concentration above 0.00 percent BAC.
  • Those who have previous convictions for driving a commercial vehicle while impaired, driving while under the age of 21 after consuming alcohol or drugs, causing a fatality accident or serious felony injury as a result of impaired driving, or committing manslaughter or negligent homicide due to driving impaired, are also restricted from driving with a BAC over 0.00 percent.

The length of time a driver is required to keep an IID on his or her vehicle depends on the original revocation period that was imposed by the court when he or she was convicted. If a person’s license is revoked for one year, the IID will need to remain on the vehicle for one year once driving privileges are restored. Drivers whose privileges have been revoked for four years may have to keep the device on their vehicles for three years from the date of their driver’s license restoration.

While restoration of driving privileges for drivers whose licenses have been permanently revoked is rare, when it does occur, the length of requirement for an IID is seven years.

Aggravating circumstances may cause these penalties to be increased. Reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, driving while alcohol-impaired, or with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle, a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, or causing an accident resulting in serious injury may disqualify a driver from being allowed to equip a vehicle with an IID and return to the driver’s seat legally. Driving without a valid license during this period may lead to far greater penalties. Any violation of IID restrictions may result in the permanent revocation of a driver’s license and other harsh penalties.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Being Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident?

While an interlock ignition device may be an effective tool for preventing serious drunk driving accidents, you can reduce the risk of such an accident with a few simple steps:

  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Always designate a sober driver before going out, or leave your vehicle at home so you won’t be able to get behind the wheel.
  • Refrain from drinking and driving.
  • Never let friends or family drive while they are alcohol-impaired.
  • When hosting a party, either host a dry event or remind your guests to arrange sober transportation prior to the event, or make these arrangements for your guests.

If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident caused by someone else in Raleigh, you should seek legal representation at once. Contact the car accident lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, LLP, now for a free consultation.


Image of a don't drink and drive sign with a key crossed out that reads "If you drink, don't drive"