Drunk drivers are a great danger across the U.S., and the roads of North Carolina are not immune to this hazard. Driving while intoxicated greatly impairs the cognitive skills needed to operate a motor vehicle. This is why so many car accidents involve drunk drivers.
Sadly, drunk driving accidents are common but many people don’t know what to do if they encounter an intoxicated driver on the roadways or are involved in a drunk driving accident.
Our Winston-Salem car accident attorneys at Lewis & Keller are here to help you understand how to proceed after witnessing a drunk driver. Additionally, if you’re injured in an accident due to an impaired driver, we can help you determine your legal options and if you’re entitled to any compensation.
Drunk Driving Statistics
There are drunk drivers in every state but some states are worse than others. For example, our sister-state, South Carolina, has one of the highest DUI rates in the nation, according to CBS News.
Drunk driving continues to be a problem on North Carolina roads, as well. The following statistics were taken from a North Carolina DMV report for the year of 2017:
- 11,342 drunk driving crashes occurred.
- There were 368 drunk driving fatalities, which was 26.4 percent of all vehicle accident fatalities.
- 7,922 injuries from drunk driving occurred.
- Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday with 207 alcohol-related crashes and five fatalities.
How Can I Spot a Drunk Driver?
Being able to spot a drunk driver could help you prevent a collision. There are a few tell-tale signs of an intoxicated driver. Our legal team has compiled the most commonly observed signs of impaired drivers to help you identify drunk driving on the roadways and, hopefully, avoid an accident:
- Swerving in and out of lanes
- Driving too close to the shoulder or centerline
- Slow reaction time
- Driving without lights on in the dark
- Driving too slowly or making sudden accelerations
- Going the opposite direction into oncoming traffic
What to Do if You Encounter a Drunk Driver
If you see any of the signs listed above, you should report it to your local authorities. Reporting a possible drunk driver can prevent car accidents and even save lives.
In addition to the signs the driver is showing, make sure to give the best description possible of their car. The authorities will be able to find the drunk driver more quickly if they know the make, model, and color of the car, as well as the license plate number.
What if I Am Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you have been hit by a drunk driver, it’s important to know how to proceed.
1. Remain calm and call emergency responders.
Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it’s important to call emergency responders. A police officer will be able to divert traffic and prevent additional collisions. The officer will also write a report, making your job easier when you report the accident to your insurance company. Finally, an officer will be able to determine whether or not the driver was intoxicated and make an arrest, if needed, based on North Carolina’s drunk driving laws.
2. Take photos of the accident, if possible.
This can help prove your side of the story and be useful when dealing with insurance adjusters.
3. Get contact information from the driver and any witnesses.
This will make the legal process easier for you. Witnesses may also be able to corroborate your account of the accident.
4. Finally, contact a Winston-Salem car accident attorney.
Our legal team at Lewis & Keller can walk you through the process of filing a claim to pursue compensation. We will handle your case, so you can focus on your recovery. You may also have the option of suing the driver who hit you or the establishment where the driver was drinking before getting behind the wheel. In either of these situations, consulting an attorney will be to your advantage.
What Is the Dram Shop Law?
The Dram Shop law holds the alcohol vendor responsible for over-serving drunk drivers who caused collisions. Only 43 states, as well as the District of Columbia, uphold this law. North Carolina is one of them.
North Carolina law provides it is unlawful to “knowingly sell or give alcoholic beverages to any person who is intoxicated.” It is also unlawful to sell alcohol to a minor. These laws apply to social hosts as well as to bars, taverns, restaurants, and other vendors.
North Carolina enforces Social Host Liability, similar to the Dram Shop law. This holds private hosts who serve alcohol to guests liable if an accident is caused as a direct result of their failure to stop serving an intoxicated guest.
The injured victim may seek damages from the host if:
- The host served the alcohol.
- The host knew or should have known his/her guest was intoxicated and continued to serve them.
- The host knew his/her guest would be driving after being served alcohol.
Call Us for Legal Advice
If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver, the legal process may seem overwhelming and complicated. Our attorneys at Lewis & Keller can help you navigate this difficult time and will fight for any compensation you may be entitled to receive.
We offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t owe us anything unless we win. Call us today at 336-765-7777, or fill out our contact form to speak with our legal team.