The United States Department of Transportation is threatening North Carolina, saying if the state doesn’t increase its drunk driving laws the federal government may start pulling new highway construction funds.

The impetus for the threat came via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which has been carefully examining state laws regarding highway safety. Apparently they didn’t like what they saw when they started looking at North Carolina drunk driving laws.

North Carolina has until July 1 to adjust some current state laws regarding their treatment of drunk drivers, and the state says they will likely meet compliance in time to avoid losing funds.

Among the issues North Carolina will need to take a second look at are their existing open container laws and the use of interlock ignition devices for repeat offenders. The NHTSA is focusing their efforts on increasing traffic safety across the country. This means they are looking at existing laws, determining what has been working and which states are using it. Interlock ignition devices have been shown to greatly reduce the rate of repeat offenses of drunk driving. They require a first-time offender convicted of drunk driving to install a device which will not allow their vehicle to start until they have passed a self-administered breathalyzer test attached to their ignition. Open container laws prevent drivers from operating their vehicle with any open alcohol container in their vehicle regardless of whether or not the driver is consuming alcohol behind the wheel.

For North Carolina the changes required to existing state are minor and no one in the state is resisting them.