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New North Carolina DWI Law

I was reading in a University paper today about North Carolina's new DWI law. It is a good example of how far awry good intentions can go.

The law was passed partially in response to the low conviction rate for DWI, which had been heavily publicized by the Charlotte Observer. I remember the series of stories on that, and my reaction was "so what?". Maybe it meant there were too many weak cases. That's just as likely as a lax judicial system.

According to the University paper article, as well as in a similar article in the Charlotte Observer, "The laws stipulate that an alcohol level reading of 0.08 is enough for a conviction".

This is weird. I have never heard of a law that requires a conviction based on specific evidence. I thought that was the whole point of having a trial.

I think one unintended consequence of this legislation is more DWI suspects asking for jury trials. If I'm right, this will use up already precious court resources that will be better used to try more serious crimes.

I'm not in favor of drinking and driving. I quit drinking almost 5 years ago,
and quit drinking and driving about 10 years before that. I think if someone is shitfaced and hurts someone in an accident, they should be dealt with very severely. If they kill someone in an accident, under certain circumstances I would be OK with the death penalty.

But the drunk driving laws stopped being about the shitfaced drivers a long time ago. Originally, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving did something useful. There were too many serious cases of drunk driving being dealt with too lightly, and MADD helped usher in reforms to put problem drunk drivers in jail.

But the law of diminishing returns came into play. Even though things had improved, drinking and driving was not completely eliminated. The fact that perfection had not been attained, along with the desire of MADD to continue existing as an organization, led them to press for increasingly ridiculous policies such as the nation wide drinking age and increasingly lower blood alcohol thresholds.

The new North Carolina law is definitely part of the "increasingly ridiculous" trend. And that's a damm shame.


Good article. It's an interesting example of that particular phenomenon. The combination of MADD not wanting to stop until the problem was solved, the repeated legislation and stricter penalties just resulting in not sane operating environments for everybody without seeming too crazy to the people leading up to them...