Each year in this country, there are 111 million times when a driver gets into their vehicle when they are over the legal alcohol limit. The result of these bad decisions is that more than 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents every year. That means that every day, 28 families lose a loved one to a drunk driver. Every 51 minutes, someone's child, parent, and sibling, is killed. Although there has been much in the way of educating the public of the dangers of driving drunk and an increase in the penalties for drunk driving, safety experts say there is still more that can be done to save lives.
Stopping DUI Fatalities
In the past four decades, the drunk driving rate has decreased nationwide by almost 60 percent, yet drunk driving is the number cause of car crash fatalities. Enforcing strict drunk driving laws has helped in keeping alcohol-impaired drivers off the road. In North Carolina, approximately 400 people are killed every year in DUI accidents. Although North Carolina law does take a strong stance against drunk driving, it ranks only at number 35 in the country in terms of how strict the state’s laws are. For example, while some many states classify a second or third DUI offense as a felony, in North Carolina, it is only a misdemeanor. It does not become a felony charge until it is an offender’s fourth drunk driving offense within seven years.
Some of the factors that have proven effective in the war against drunk driving are obvious ones, while others may be ones you would not think of.
Sobriety checkpoints – where police are allowed to briefly stop drivers to see if they are impaired – have been successful and have prevented countless numbers of fatal drunk driving deaths by pulling the impaired driver off the road.
The use of ignition interlocks for those convicted of DUI have also shown to be helpful in preventing DUI crashes. The devices, which measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC), are attached to a convicted driver’s vehicle. The driver has to blow into the device before it will start. If the device measures a BAC of more than .02 percent, the vehicle will not start.
The popularity of ridesharing companies has also played a role in decreasing the number of DUI accidents. There are many areas where cab service is unavailable or the cost of the service may be expensive. But services like Lyft and Uber provide an inexpensive and easily accessible way for people to go out and enjoy a few drinks without having to worry about the drive home.
One of the more surprising factors that may decrease fatal DUI crashes is taxing alcohol. In a study done by the University of Florida, drunk driving deaths decrease by more than 25 percent in Illinois when that state raised the tax on alcohol.
Contact a Carolinas Wrongful Death Attorney
Families who have lost loved ones in drunk driving crashes should consider contacting a North Carolina DUI accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse they may have for their pain and loss. Although nothing will ever make up for the death of a DUI accident victim, North Carolina law allows families to seek justice in civil court under the wrongful death statute. This is separate from any criminal charges the driver may be facing.
Our law firm also offers a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as personal representative.