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Drinking and Driving Laws in NC and VA

Drunk driving causes serious accidents every year in North Carolina, Virginia and throughout the nation. Consequently, all states have laws that make it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, which is called per se law.

By 2001, all U.S. states and the District of had enacted .08 per se laws. However, recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended lowering the .08 BAC level even further to .05 BAC. According to the NTSB, statistics show that 10,000 people die every year in alcohol-related traffic accidents, 27,000 suffer from disabilities and 146,000 suffer injuries. This is an average of one person dying, 20 people injured and three people injured with debilitating injuries every hour because of drunk drivers. In addition to changing the BAC level, some other recommendations the NTSB issued included the following:

  • Requiring ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all drunk driving offenders
  • Targeting and addressing repeat offenders
  • Increased high-visibility enforcement (checkpoints)
  • Developing and employing in-vehicle detection technology

As of July 2012, Virginia required all first-time drunk driving offenders to use an IID that would not start the car if the reading was above .02 BAC. By comparison, North Carolina only has an IID requirement for repeat offenders. However, according to WFMY News, NC legislators are considering a program that would give first-time offenders the option of using an IID in exchange for limited driving privileges.

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