Category: News

It’s the ultimate penny-wise, pound foolish decision: drive home to avoid paying a cab fare after a night of drinking.

You’ll save $30, $40, or even $50. And you’ll run the risk of a DUI conviction, which carries fearsome costs with it.

buckeye-arizona-police-discourage-drunk-drivingThe Buckeye Arizona police decided to advertise this message to the city’s drivers by recycling an old police cruiser. The car is now half-taxi, half police car, and the message painted on it asks drivers to choose: the taxi ride home will cost you $50, the police car about $8,500.

In Arizona as elsewhere, the costs of a DUI arrest and conviction mount up fast.

  • Bail: Could range from hundreds to thousands
  • Court Costs: Can exceed $1,000
  • Attorney Fees: Could range from hundreds to thousands
  • Fines: First offense $1,600
  • Alcohol Education Classes: $40 to several hundred

There is also the monthly fee for an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, which will need to be installed on the offender’s vehicle. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Arizona mandates ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses, including first offenses.

These are the immediate, calculable costs. If you lose your job, the financial effect can be overwhelming.

Everyone likes a bargain, but driving drunk is no way to save money. Whether or not you are in Buckeye, Arizona, and whether or not you’ve seen the cruiser parked in various places around the city, you should have gotten the message by now: designate a driver, or take a taxi. You’ll be saving a lot more than just money.

Up to now, North Carolina has been one of a large number of states that do not require mopeds to be insured. That is about to change, if Governor Pat McCrory signs House Bill 148, which will require $30,000 worth of liability insurance for every moped driver.

This law is just the next step in a trend that began last year when the state began requiring mopeds to be registered.

Why is this of interest? Because mopeds are widely seen in North Carolina as “DWI Mobiles.” Citizens of the state who have been convicted of impaired driving and have had their license suspended often buy mopeds to get around.

Senator Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) disapproves of the measure. He has a different idea: help more drivers with DWIs get ignition interlocks. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

If more DWI offenders were given ignition interlocks, then they wouldn’t be on mopeds in the first place.  While interlocks are not free for the offender, they are considerably cheaper than moped insurance for a driver with a DWI.

Opponents of Senator Bingham note that a large proportion of moped accidents are due to alcohol. But this seems to be a good argument for ignition interlocks instead of mopeds. Interlock devices cannot be installed on mopeds. If the offender uses a vehicle with an interlock, then we are assured that he or she will not be using alcohol behind the wheel. The same cannot be said of a moped.

It’s anyone’s guess if the governor will sign HB148. However, the option of an ignition interlock does seem like the best choice for a driver who wants to deal with an alcohol problem while avoiding the temptation to drive drunk. We hope Governor McCrory considers the whole picture and encourages the legislature to widen the scope of North Carolina’s interlock laws. That would be best for everyone in the state.

Last Tuesday members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other concerned citizens held a press conference at the General Assembly in Raleigh. The purpose was urge the North Carolina Legislature to pass a law requiring first DWI offenders to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles. Ignition interlocks, or car breathalyzers, prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinkingIt’s a story that those who follow road safety have heard before, all over the country. Currently North Carolina requires interlock devices for repeat offenders or first offenders who are extremely drunk at the time of arrest. The law, SB 619/HB 877, would mandate interlocks for anyone convicted with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more.

It sounds extreme to some – after all, aren’t people entitled to one mistake? – but statistics tell us that a first DWI arrest comes after an offender has driven impaired about 80 times. License suspensions don’t work – every year tens of thousands of North Carolinians are picked up for driving without a license. Ignition interlocks are they only means of ensuring that a driver does not get behind the wheel while drunk.

Recently Texas was the 25th state to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law. Perhaps North Carolina will be the one to tip the balance and make such states a majority in the union.

Police departments and road safety advocates are on board with such laws. It’s up to the North Carolina Legislature now. Let’s hope they pass a bill that will save many lives in North Carolina, year after year.

arizona has the toughest DUI penalties in the nationMost people have a vague idea of what happens after a DUI, but the people that know exactly what happens tend to be those that have had the misfortune (and bad judgment) to get a drunk driving conviction of their own. And while they will suffer the consequences, which might include fines, jail time, ignition interlocks, higher insurance rates, and other setbacks – they probably don’t know if they’re better off than their neighbors in other states.

The answer is yes, unless they live in Arizona. Because Arizona has the toughest DUI penalties in the country, according to a recent wallethub survey.

The reasons Arizona takes the brass ring:

  • Jail time. Arizona imposes a minimum of 10 days in jail, the highest by far in the country. Many states have no minimums.
  • Automatic felony for 3rd DUI. A fairly common penalty, though some states are more lenient and just four are tougher.

Arizona also fines offenders  $1,250 for a first offense – a stiff automatic penalty – and requires mandatory screening and/or treatment for alcohol abuse.

Arizona is one of 24 states that requires an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, to be installed after a first offense. An ignition interlock prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

So, while the high minimum jail term clinches the title for Arizona, its DUI laws are thorough and well-thought-out.

For the record, South Dakota wins the prize for the state that offers drunk drivers the fewest repercussions: no minimum jail sentence for first or second offenses, and no license suspension.

The upshot: don’t drink and drive anywhere, because it’s foolish and dangerous. Most states are in agreement with this proposition, and one state clearly has its head on straighter than the rest. Hats off to Arizona.

There’s some good news for safe, unimpaired drivers in North Carolina: your state has the lowest auto insurance rates. According to Charlotte’s NPR station, a recent survey by North Carolina has cheap auto insurance rates - unless you get a found that North Carolina gives drivers the best deal for insuring their ride, including a variety of discounts for certain drivers and situations, thanks to a competitive market.

Some ways you can get discounts:

  • New Car. The advanced safety equipment on a new car will mean lower rates.
  • Safe Drivers. If you don’t have an accident on your record, you’ll be treated as a better risk.
  • Driver Safety Courses. Completing certain safety courses can gain you a small discount.
  • Certain Professions. Nurses are thought to drive more safely. So are teachers and good students. These people can often shave a few points off their rate.
  • Organizations. Certain professional clubs and organizations are favored with insurance discounts.

Your auto insurance will go up in NC if you get a DWIIt’s a buyer’s market for insurance, which makes North Carolina the envy of drivers in many states. However, all that does a 180 if you drink and drive. As has been noted before, North Carolina slams convicted drunk drivers with the highest insurance rates in the nation. If you have a DWI on your record you can expect to pay three times what you’re paying now.

So if you want to save money, ask your auto insurer about special discounts. With or without them, you’ll be getting a better deal than the rest of the country.

But if you want to throw money away in North Carolina, get a DWI.

“On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive.”

drinking and driving is not OK in North CarolinaThat’s the slogan that the State Highway Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission want you to take to heart this summer. Recently those organizations launched their annual safety campaign to persuade people to make the right choices regarding drinking and driving.

Drinking and driving a boat or car is dangerousWhy summer? Lovely as they are, the summer months can be dangerous times. Barbecues, garden parties, sports events, and the July 4 holiday are occasions for drinking. Most people are sensible; they avoid driving a car while chilling with a beer or margarita.

But it’s worth remembering that there are other things that you shouldn’t try to pilot while drinking this summer:

  • Boats
  • Riding mowers
  • Golf carts
  • Snowmobiles (not a big issue in summer, but it’s happened)
  • Segways
  • Horses

In fact, you’ll find DUIs on record for all of these vehicles, and that’s because all of them can be dangerous to you or others if you’re driving or riding them while impaired.

So On the Road, On the Water just about covers things – it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be in the cockpit of your plane if you’ve been drinking, of course.

The message from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, MADD, and the State Patrol: enjoy the summer. Safely.

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