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Non-compliance With Federal Law Could Reshape NC DOT Budget

North Carolina is among 33 states that face penalties for not complying with federal regulations designed to crack down on drunken drivers. 

President Obama signed a bill into law last year that requires states to strengthen laws for DWI offenders and implement more measures to prevent people from driving drunk.  DOT spokeswoman Tammy Stewart says the federal government could automatically divert $44 million to the state's safety budget if North Carolina does not comply.

"We are currently working with the General Assembly to get legislation passed so we can begin compliance on July 1," Stewart says.

"We are working on the language to the bill to get that passed.  That money would just be moved from construction and focused on safety, which are things that we do already."

Stewart says that budget funds programs meant to cut the number of DWI charges.

"We have a Booze It and Loose It campaign, which is something that we hold several times a year.  (It) also gives grants to law enforcement agencies and, of course, (it) enforces our roads to make sure that people are abiding by the law."

The state must use more devices that lock the ignition on a car if the driver is drunk and strengthen open container laws in order to comply.  Stewart says federal officials are still determining whether they will penalize North Carolina.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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