Tuesday, July 8, 2014

HB 812: Where are the Whiskey Plates?

House Bill 812, sponsored by James Boles, Jr. (R-District 52, most of Moore County), has been stuck in limbo for more than a year. Its last known action, according to online bill tracker Open States, was for reference to the Committee on Transportation. Did the House quietly drop the bill on "whiskey plates?"

HB 812 is a proposal for special license plates to be issued to drivers with DWI offenses. As of today, only four states have enacted laws authorizing the use of these whiskey plates, known in popular parlance. If passed (which is highly unlikely due to the lack of updates), the driver will have to carry a whiskey plate for seven years from the day his driving privileges were restored.

The bill was proposed to make identification of drivers with DWI offenses easier for law enforcement and the public. However, according to Raleigh-based DWI lawyer Seth Blum, the proposal harkens back to colonial times where public shaming was a preferred punishment. There's little gain in tagging those with DWI history compared with proven systems like interlock devices.

For Mr. Blum, the current sanctions in place, such as community service and one-year suspension of driving privileges, are sufficient. The bill, he writes, "kicks DWI defendants when they are already down." It's safe to say that, at some point during the bill's journey to becoming a law, it may have attracted serious flak from other lawmakers, if not the public.

Seth Blum is an experienced DWI attorney in Raleigh, NC. To contact him please call 919-832-7700 or visit

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