Definition of habitual DWI offender could soon change - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Definition of habitual DWI offender could soon change

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A person has to be charged with four DWIs within ten years to be considered a habitual offender and be charged with a felony.

A new bill, however, is moving through the General Assembly that could make anyone with four DWIs a repeat offender, regardless of when they happen.

"Impaired driving is the most deadly thing each year in this district," said District Attorney Ben David. "It's not guns, it's not knives, it's an impaired driver."

House Bill 31 has already passed a first reading the NC House, and it's not the only bill out there right now in connection to drinking and driving. House Bill 43 would call for ignition interlock devices for every DWI conviction, including the first.

The device requires drivers to take a breathalyzer before starting the car and prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.

"There is a way to manage this and do a better job," explained Representative Susi Hamilton. "And with advanced technologies in that regard, that's what we should be doing. No matter the cost, it's human lives at stake here."

The new bills come from a state representative for Wake County, but the Cape Fear area could be most affected by them. New Hanover and Brunswick Counties led the state in DWI arrests in 2012.

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