Monitech

Tag: North Carolina

Texting-While-Driving-NCPolice have had many years to learn how to catch drunk drivers. There are many signs of impaired driving, as well as breathalyzers and field tests to confirm the offense once the driver is stopped. We even have good technology – ignition interlocks – to prevent drunk drivers from starting their car.

Texting while driving, though widespread, is a recent phenomenon, and police must now develop ways to identify and catch distracted drivers. Some of the same warning signs can be useful – if a driver is too slow, or erratic, for example. But something more is needed.

The Randolph County office of the North Carolina Highway Patrol came up with something more. They sent out NCDOT pickup trucks with plainclothes officers in them to watch for texting drivers. When they spotted one, they contacted troopers in nearby unmarked vehicles to issue a ticket.

Texting while driving is illegal in North Carolina. Offenders face fines and court costs.

Like other states, North Carolina is just beginning to come to terms with the menace of distracted driving. This program has promise, since the pickup trucks blend in and catch texting and phoning drivers off their guard. Until automotive technology catches up, and we adopt an “ignition interlock” that prevents people from using their phones while driving, Randolph County drivers are on notice: that yellow pickup truck might get them picked up if they make the bad decision to text and drive.

Some laws are just weird.

They’re either weird because they’re so random (Ohio has a law that you can’t get a fish drunk) or so ludicrous (It’s illegal to sneeze on city streets in Asheville, NC). North Carolina has it’s fair share of weird laws, including the illegality of rollerblading on a state highway in Southern Shores. And when it comes to drinking laws, the weirdness keeps on coming. Check out these eight, weird drinking laws in North Carolina.

1. Serving alcohol at a bingo game is not allowed. As a side note, bingo games can’t last longer than five hours (unless at a fair)…I don’t know.

2. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have an entirely separate set of laws concerning alcohol, but the government can pretty much veto any of them.

3. The following are considered vehicles sufficient to support a DWI conviction — stand-up scooter with electric motor, a farm tractor and a horse (why anyone would ride a horse drunk is beyond me, but I guess it’s cool the state has thought about how it would handle it…maybe).

4. Happy hours are actually illegal in North Carolina. Bet you didn’t know that one.

5. In North Carolina, you must be 21-years old to consume alcohol but can become a bartender at 18. Wait, what? Definitely don’t want to ask my 18-year-old bartender what he’d recommend.

6. In Wake County, there are limits to how much alcohol a person can purchase at one time. Except for draft malt beverages. Technically speaking, you could buy all the draft malt beverages in the county…at one time.

7. North Carolina is the only state in the country in which alcohol is controlled by both the state’s ABC Commission and a council of more than 160 local boards. Trying to figure out exactly what that means will kind of give you a migraine.

8. The North Carolina Alcohol Commission has the authority to prohibit or regulate advertising of alcoholic beverages by mail. Alcohol advertisements by mail? Do people still get mail?

 

North Carolina is home to 74 craft breweries (according to this map), the most of any state in the southeast, earning us the title — “State of Southern Beer.” And the beers brewed at these local watering holes are good. Really good. Incorporating chocolate, ginger and other creative ingredients, craft beer generally tastes better than beer mass-produced by big companies like Budweiser and Coors. And they’re transforming the state’s beer landscape.

No longer is the only option at grocery stores cases of 4% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) beers in 12 ounce cans. This means more than a greater variety of tasty beers to choose from. Typical craft beers can range in ABV from 5-10%. And the explosion in popularity of craft beer in North Carolina over the last 3-5 years has completely changed the game. Once widely accepted theories regarding how much is safe to drink before driving (i.e. two drink limit, one drink per hour, etc) have gone completely out the window.

Craft Beer And ABV

Let’s say you’re a 175 pound male with an average metabolism rate. Based on this Blood Alcohol Calculator, you could drink four cans of Bud Light (4.2% ABV) and still be under the legal limit. Now let’s pretend that a friend invites you to go check out Boylan Bridge Brewpub in Raleigh, NC and you drink two Hopped off the Tracks IPAs (7% ABV) in an hour. You’re BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is now at .075. And this is assuming that you have eaten recently enough, you’re metabolism rate isn’t lower than average, you’re adequately hydrated and you’re not in a strange mood. All of which can determine how alcohol affects you. If any of these factors is a bit off, you may be over the legal limit after just two beers. A 130 pound female would have a BAC of .127 after the same amount.

But let’s say you’re a bigger guy. National male weight averages are trending up after all. At 190 pounds, if you drink the same two IPAs as our 175 pound friend, you’re BAC would be .68, below the legal limit, but still high enough that if a few biological factors are a bit off, you may be in trouble if you were to get pulled over. But for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume you’re BAC is .68. You’ll pretty much need to call it a night if you plan to drive home. Even a Bud Light would put you over the legal limit at this point. And the odds of you finding a Bud Light at a craft brewery are slim to none, so you’re only options would be more high ABV beers.

Listen, the point of this post is not to bash craft beer. In fact, there are a lot of reasons to drink craft beer exclusively. Just remember to be mindful of the ABV of the beers you’re drinking and careful not to push your limits by assuming all beers will have the same effect on you. Cheers.

TIRF Ignition Interlock Statistics

In early 1989, the founder of Monitech approached the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) about using the emerging technology of a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) as a highway safety measure. The BAIID would allow drivers who had had multiple DWI convictions and their licenses revoked to legally drive again by requiring them to provide an alcohol breath sample before starting their cars. This would prove to the NCDMV that these drivers had changed their behavior; it would further provide the NCDMV with the assurance that repeat DWI offenders were no longer endangering the motoring public.

At that time, and still to this day, the NCDMV had a “conditionally restored” program for repeat DWI offenders: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-19(d) & (e).  Repeat DWI offenders could obtain a conditionally restored drivers license if (1) their license had been revoked for at least three years and (2) they could produce three witnesses who swore under oath that the offender had not used alcohol in at least one year. However, until the BAIID was developed, the NCDMV had no way of ensuring that the conditionally restored driver was actually abstaining from the use of alcohol before or during vehicle use.

The Pilot Program

So the NCDMV acted upon Monitech’s recommendation and founded the BAIID program under the following pretenses: 1) they would control the rules and fee structure of the program and 2) Monitech would incur all investment costs in personnel, services centers and equipment. The pilot program, which started with restrictions to 100 participants’ conditionally restored driver’s licenses, required Monitech’s device to record a breath alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 as a WARN, a 0.04 -0.07 as a FAIL and a 0.08+ as a HIGH FAIL. These set points assured the NCDMV that N.C. roads would be safer.

Monitech was the first company in the nation to develop and deploy a BAIID using fuel cell technology to more accurately measure breath alcohol (the same technology used in most law enforcement breath testing instruments). It also increased its number of service centers statewide for customer convenience. While many states were hosting multiple BAIID providers, the NCDMV continued its partnership exclusively with Monitech for years. Though requests for proposals were put out for bid several times, Monitech was the only provider willing to invest in the technology and facilities necessary to provide statewide coverage.

For 22 years, Monitech served North Carolinians as their sole provider. In 2011, the NCDMV opened the state to multiple vendors and now Monitech shares friendly competition with Smart Start and Alcolock.

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