People in North Carolina may see escalated attempts to arrest and prosecute people for driving under the influence of drugs, especially as an increasing number of people advocate for legalized cannabis. The decriminalization movement that has spread across the country sparked warnings from the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB. There are no clear standards indicating what level of drug exposure could indicate impaired driving. In addition, there are no standardized devices that police can use to detect the level of drug exposure in a person's bloodstream.
A 22-year-old North Carolina man is facing serious felony charges after he allegedly drove his SUV into a packed Mooresville restaurant that had denied him service on the night of April 12. Workers at the popular sports bar and grill on Plaza Drive said that the man had been refused entry because he was obviously intoxicated. He has since been charged with using his vehicle as a deadly weapon with the intent to kill or cause serious injury and drunk driving. Reports indicate that he is being held in lieu of a $200,000 bond.
In general, a North Carolina resident who is convicted of a DWI is required to get a substance use assessment and successfully complete a substance abuse education program or a treatment program. However, there are different types and levels of education programs and treatment programs available, though the program a defendant may be required to complete depends on a variety of factors.
Charlotte-area drivers who are convicted of drunk driving only have a mandatory requirement to put an ignition interlock device on their vehicle if they have a blood alcohol content at or above 0.15. However, according to a study that appeared in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine", in states that have mandatory ignition interlock device laws for people with drunk driving convictions at lower blood alcohol levels, lives are saved.
North Carolina changed its drunk driving laws in 1983, passing the Safe Roads Act that unified all of our drunk driving laws and set new standards. One of the changes with this new law is that drunk driving charges are referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI). There are four different blood alcohol concentration limits in place, depending on the individual accused of drunk driving.
A man who allegedly left the scene of an accident after the vehicle he was driving collided with a moped on Dec. 19 has now been charged in connection with the incident, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. News sources report that a 22-year-old female passenger was killed when she was thrown from the moped and that the 19-year-old man who was driving it was seriously injured. Although preliminary reports do not indicate whether alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash, sources now say that the hit-and-run driver is facing charges of DWI and felony death by vehicle.
A North Carolina high school football coach was taken into custody on Nov. 12 on suspicion of driving under the influence. Police claim that the man had a blood alcohol level that was more than double the North Carolina .08 percent legal limit at the time of the incident, and the 43-year-old coach was charged with misdemeanor DWI.
The penalties for drunk driving in North Carolina can be severe, and even first-time offenders may be sentenced to jail time. North Carolina has seized the vehicles of over 8,000 motorists convicted of DWI since harsher sanctions were introduced in 1998. A driver is considered intoxicated in the state when they have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher, but this limit drops to .04 percent for those with a commercial driver's license.