A head-on collision in Durham, North Carolina (NC), on the night of April 9, 2017, claimed the life of a North Carolina Central University student. The deceased victim had been a passenger in a car struck by a woman who now faces felony drunk driving charges.
The deadly crash happened on East Geer Street near the intersection with Cheek Road and Fay Street. The at-fault driver reportedly crossed a double yellow line before colliding with the oncoming vehicle. In addition to killing the 18-year-old nursing student, the drunk driver inflicted serious injuries on three other people.
Charges for driving while impaired (DWI), failing to maintain lane control and causing a death by motor vehicle have been filed against the at-fault driver, who did not sustain injuries. Crossing into the wrong lane before crashing would have been enough to bring criminal consequences. Section 20-146 of the North Carolina Code states that “upon any highway having four or more lanes for moving traffic and providing for two-way movement of traffic, no vehicle shall be driven to the left of the centerline of the highway.” The statute further provides that “a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
Violating either of those rules of the road makes a person either negligent or reckless and, likely, responsible for settling insurance claims arising from any crash that results from his or her mistake behind the wheel. Driving under the influence of alcohol greatly increases the chances for crossing a center line. When that happened on East Geer Street in Durham, a young woman lost her life needlessly.
Another section of the North Carolina Code specifies that a driver can be charged with felony death by motor vehicle when he or she was DWI and the wreck the person caused led directly to another person’s death. Even though taking someone else’s life was unintentionally, the crime is considered serious because it was so likely preventable.
When a drunk driver is found responsible for inflicting injuries or causing deaths, the person can be assessed punitive damages, which are noncriminal monetary penalties for reckless behavior. Working with a caring and experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney would help the family of the NCCU student who lost her life explore this option for seeking justice.