A semi-recent decision made by North Carolina lawmakers is attempting to give a second chance at holding a legal license to habitual DWI offenders. To anyone in this position, this is considered a victory. However, it leads many to question how appropriate it is. Everyone makes mistakes— there’s no doubt about that. However, when it comes to making multiple mistakes in the same circumstance— how do we decide whether or not they’ll make the right decision if given another chance? There is certainly controversy over whether lawmakers should allow habitual DWI offenders a second chance at driving legally once more.
Habitual DWI Offenders: Worthy of Another Chance?
First off, what is a Habitual DWI Offender?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a habitual DWI offender is someone who has received four or more DWI convictions. After the fourth DWI, the offender must surrender their license indefinitely. While this might feel a bit harsh, it’s reserved for those offenders with a habit of driving drunk.
How this New Law affects Habitual DWI Offenders?
As of July 21, 2017, habitual DWI offenses will get the chance to re-obtain their license. However, in order to be eligible, the person must meet these requirements:
- have their license revoked for at least 10 years,
- cannot have any traffic or criminal convictions during the 10 year revocation, and
- must not currently use alcohol, unlawfully use any controlled substance, or excessively use prescription drugs.
If a person is able to demonstrate these conditions to the DMV hearing officer, then that person may have their license restored. But the drivers don’t quite get off the hook that easily. On top of proving good behavior to DMV, the driver will also have to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicle for the next 7 years.
The new law has been met with criticism…
While this may be good news for those who were previously facing a life of driving penalties, critics do not feel the same. It has been suggested that instead of restoring driving privileges to habitual DWI offenders, there should be a deterrent for first time offenders. Typically, a driver must install this device following a certain type of DWI, such as a second offense or high BAC. Therefore, critics believe having these systems for first time offenders, rather than after a few, might make drivers think twice. Additionally, some believe that these drivers will not have learned their lesson and will simply drive impaired again.
…But also with praise
Supporters of the new law, however, believe that it gives people another chance to correct their wrongs. Further, supporters feel that it will allow a person who has real problems to get clean and start over again. On a practical level, supporters of the law understand that it can be difficult to be mobile within this state. Especially if that person lives in a rural area. Not having a license can make it difficult for people to get from point A to point B, and hold a reliable job. Additionally, asking friends and family for rides over and over becomes tired, and a burden. For many people, their only option becomes to drive drunk or lose their job. Consequently, they might find themselves with another charge.
Therefore, this change begs the question of who is worth another chance at redemption? To answer that, you have to allow everyone the opportunity. Just because a few habitual DWI offenders might make the wrong choice, doesn’t mean they all will. So, only time will tell whether this law proves beneficial, or dangerous for other drivers on the roadway.