Driving While Impaired


The Driving While Impaired (DWI) emphasis area targets collisions on North Carolina’s roadways that involve one or more drivers of whom alcohol impairment is suspected or detected.  Although drivers can be impaired in many ways—due to drug or alcohol use, fatigue, aging, emotional state, etc.—alcohol-impaired driving is considered to be the linchpin of the issue.  As such, it should be the primary focus of our efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries resulting from impaired driving.


Notable Facts

  • From 2009 – 2013, alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina took the lives of over 400 people on average each year and resulted in over 500 serious injuries a year on average.
  • 2 of 3 drivers arrested nationally for DWI have not been previously charged with DWI.
  • 4 of 5 drivers in an alcohol-related crash nationally have not been previously charged with DWI.

Emphasis Area Goal

In 2013, there were 353 fatalities and 457 serious injuries due to alcohol-involved crashes in North Carolina.  The goal for this this emphasis area is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries associated with DWI.


  • Increase the visibility of DWI enforcement efforts.
  • Collaboratively redefine the roles and responsibilities of various State government offices in processing license revocations for DWI.
  • Expand the use of ignition interlock devices.
  • Improve the efficiency and consistency with which DWI cases are adjudicated and sanctions are levied against offenders.
  • Expand how “success” or “progress” in addressing DWI is measured.

Indicators of Progress

  • Number of ignition interlock devices installed.
  • Level of funding that directly supports the ignition interlock device program.
  • Publicity efforts (e.g., total column inches in print media, total minutes in broadcast media, and total number of paid media spots) devoted to promoting awareness of DWI checkpoints and enforcement efforts.

Potential Implementing Agencies

  • Administrative Office of Courts
  • Advocacy groups
  • District Attorneys
  • Governor’s Highway Safety Program
  • Law enforcement
  • North Carolina Department of Public Safety
  • North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles
  • Non-profit groups such as MADD
See Appendix C for the Driving While Impaired Action Plan.