By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 4, 2013
RALEIGH — Both the House and Senate passed alcohol related bills Thursday — one that closes a frequently abused loophole in the ABC sales permitting process, and another that holds drivers seeking to have their revoked licenses reinstated to a higher standard of sobriety.
Senate Bill 445 – ABC Permit Issuance, passed unanimously in the Senate after members heard sponsor Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie) explain how current law was being circumvented.
“Currently someone can ask for a one-time permit on Friday afternoon and get a permit over the weekend. And before the Commission (Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission) and ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement Division) can check out the permit by the next Monday, the event has already happened,” he said. “What has happened in the past, we’ve had people to abuse the one-time permit process to get a special permit on a weekly basis or a biweekly basis.”
He said often the special permit events were improper because they were held in areas where alcohol sales had not been approved by local referenda.
To make sure ABC and ALE officials have time to properly supervise the permit process, the bill would require those seeking a special permit to have it issued at least 10 days before their event is to occur. ABC would then have three days to pass the information to ALE.
“We’re thrilled to see the Senate take action to close this loophole and hope the House will follow suit,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “When ‘special one-time events’ start happening every weekend in areas where the people haven’t voted in alcohol sales, the law needs to be tightened. And that’s what this bill does.”
Meanwhile the House passed a bill that would affect drivers who are having their licenses reinstated after an impaired driving offense. Currently the law which allows them to drive with an Ignition Interlock device says they must not drive with an alcohol concentration of .04 or greater. House Bill 41 would drop that limit to O.OO.
“Currently after a DWI conviction, after a year of driving on a limited driving privilege, you can go down to DMV and get your license back. When they give you your license they put a restriction on your license much like an eye-glass restriction that simply says you can continue to drink and drive, just don’t drink as much. Your limit is now — instead of .08, the legal limit — it is now .04,” said Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake), the bill’s sponsor. He said for repeat DWI offenders or for those with especially high blood alcohol levels the first time they are charged, the law already specifies a 0 tolerance.
“This bill would simply change the .04 to 0.00 for all offenders while they have this restricted license,” he explained, describing the bill as “good public policy.”
“This is another common sense alcohol bill, and we urge the Senate to give its approval,” said Dr. Creech. He said the CAL is also monitoring a number of other bills that relate to DWI.