Three teenagers suffered serious injuries when the SUV in which they were riding ran off the road in Hertford County, North Carolina (NC). The single-vehicle crash, which also killed the 18-year-old driver, happened a little after 11 pm on July 13, 2021.
NC Highway Patrol troopers responded to the crash scene near the intersection of Newsome Grove Road and Colfield Road. They found all four occupants of the SUV ejected from the vehicle. The troopers’ preliminary investigation indicated the driver swerved out of his own lane, crossed the lane for oncoming traffic, hit the lip of a culvert, went airborne and collided with a tree. The SUV came to rest on its side.
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The three surviving passengers were transported to the hospital. Officials did not release information on the nature of their injuries, and no assessments of prospects for recovery have been shared publicly. Officials did, however, tell reporters that alcohol use and speed may have led the young driver to lose control of the SUV.
Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking and Driving in North Carolina
On its website, the NC Department of Public Safety explains, in italics,
North Carolina takes a zero-tolerance stance against drivers who are under the legal drinking age but drank or used drugs illegally and then got behind the wheel.
People under age 21 simply cannot drive with any alcohol or illegally-used drugs in their systems -- period.
A growing number of states are adopting 0.0 as the legal limit for the blood alcohol concentration for drivers who are not yet old enough to purchase beer, wine or liquor. One argument for doing this is that a measured BAC of as little as 0.02 lowers visual acuity, impairs judgment and lessens the ability to multitask. With teen drivers already being more likely to engage in risky behaviors and become distracted behind the wheel, adding alcohol only raises the risks for a harmful or deadly error.
As noted, the investigation into this crash on Newsome Grove Road outside of Ahoskie continues. No one can at this time know if the suspicion that the at-fault driver was legally impaired will prove true. And, certainly, that young person’s family deserves our condolences.
Whatever the cause of the crash, the injured passengers will likely have strong grounds for filing insurance claims. A driver has a duty to ensure the safety of passengers. Failing to meet that duty by acting negligently in any way creates liability for compensating injured crash victims. That compensation can be made by settling insurance claims for medical bills and damages for the infliction of pain and suffering. In this case, the injured teens’ parents can take legal action on their children’s behalf.