Should IIDs be Required for All North Carolina DWI Offenders?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a national road safety group, has joined the nationwide debate over whether those convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) should be mandated to install ignition interlock devices (IID) in their cars that prevent them from starting their vehicles if alcohol is detected on the driver's breath.

The main point of contention in the debate is whether ignition interlock devices should be required for anyone convicted of DWI or only repeat offenders - drivers convicted of DWI more than once within ten years - and severely intoxicated drivers - those with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or more.

The recently announced position of the IIHS concerning the debate is that requiring interlock devices for all DWI offenders will reduce the likelihood of repeat offenders. According to an IIHS study, such a law would reduce recidivism by 11-12 percent.

The IIHS says that the study's results should encourage additional states to change their laws to require interlock devices on all DWI offenders. Fifteen states currently have such a law on their books. Seven states, North Carolina among them, are considering changing their law.

Critics of the new law, such as the American Probation and Parole Association, although not opposed to interlock devices, claim that requiring them for all drunk driving offenders is unnecessary and estimates that it would cost states $432 million to monitor offenders.

Ignition Interlock Devices in North Carolina

Like most states, North Carolina DWI statutes require the convicted offender's driver's license to be revoked. However, after the offender completes a substance abuse assessment and other requirements, the offender's driver's license can be restored.

An ignition interlock device is required if the offender had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more, or if the offender was convicted of another offense involving impaired driving within the previous seven years. However, judges have discretion to require interlock devices for those convicted of first-offense DWI.

The length of time that an offender must have an interlock device on his or her vehicle depends on how long the driver's license was originally revoked when he or she was convicted of drunk driving:

  • One year for a license revocation of one year
  • Three years for a revocation of four years
  • Seven years if the revocation was permanent, but the court indicated the driver's license could be restored

Consult an Attorney

The penalties for driving under the influence can be very harsh. If you have been charged with DWI, contact an attorney. An experienced DWI attorney can advise you of your rights and prepare the most effective defense based on the circumstances of your arrest.