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More summertime college-aged tourists and workers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (NC) can mean more reveling, drinking, and driving. According to the North Carolina chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”), three out of ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lifetimes while national estimates suggest only one out of every one hundred to two hundred drunk drivers are ever caught. With such a high likelihood of personally experiencing or knowing someone involved in an alcohol-related crash, it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws and consequences of driving under the influence. Nags Head and all the neighboring OBX towns have a major influx of college age workers each summer, and this translates to many more drivers and yes, a higher percentage who are not heeding the call to use a designated driver or cab and not to drive after drinking.

The statutes that apply to impaired driving in North Carolina General Statutes are §§ 20-138.1 and 20-16. Under these rules, a person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, street, or public vehicular area within the state while under the influence of an impairing substance; after having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has at any relevant time after driving, an blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance listed in G.S. 20-139.1(d).

In North Carolina, when DWI/DUI drivers cause injuries, they may be liable for not only injuries (i.e., compensatory damages) such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but potentially also punitive damages depending on the blood alcohol level and circumstances. Though these damages are available to plaintiffs under limited circumstances, no one wants to put a dollar value on the injuries sustained from an alcohol-related crash. Prevention is the best option. Drink responsibly and watch out for your loved ones, and hopefully, you won’t find yourself researching the applicability of these statutes to an injury case.

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