Regarding the July 24 editorial “Keep DWI proposal”: Your support of proposed legislation requiring every convicted drunk driving offender to install an ignition interlock is misguided.
Currently, North Carolina reserves mandatory interlocks for repeat offenders and high-BAC (blood alcohol concentration) first-time offenders at or above 0.15 percent. These offenders cause 70 percent of alcohol-related highway fatalities. S.B. 619 dramatically expands existing requirements.
Your editorial oversimplifies the costs of this sweeping extension, suggesting convicted offenders, who pay for interlocks out of pocket, would foot most of the bill. In reality, interlock programs require extensive administrative costs to ensure offenders are complying with the law. Because most states lack the resources for adequate follow-up, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration estimates just 15 to 20 percent of offenders actually install the device as ordered.
That means a majority of the most dangerous drunk drivers are back behind the wheel without the court-ordered supervision of an interlock.
Broadening the existing program to include every first-time offender stretches resources so thin the law becomes impossible to enforce. Instead, North Carolina should extend the period of required interlock use for high-BAC and repeat offenders, and allocate more funding to ensure compliance.
Leave the punishment of marginal first-timers to the discretion of judges.
Managing director, American Beverage Institute