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If you have ever wondered, “How many beers can I drink and drive?” or “Can I drive after three beers?” there are many factors to take into consideration.

A 180-lb man may be able to drink 3.5 regular 12 ounce beers in one hour and keep his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) under the legal limit of .08%. Similarly, a 140-lb woman may be able to consume 2.5 regular beers in an hour and maintain a BAC of less than .08%.

Keep in mind that these numbers are general estimates that assume that the average regular beer has a 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) level, and they do not take into account other factors. The following are known contributing factors to BAC levels:

  • an individual’s metabolic rate
  • age
  • food consumption
  • and more

There are also plenty of craft IPAs, stouts, and ales available with higher ABV levels which would impact the amount you can consume and stay under .08%. On the other hand, light beers have an average ABV of 4.2%, so the same 180-lb man and 140-lb woman may each be able to drink an additional beer in that hour timeframe and potentially keep a BAC lower than .08%. (And remember, there is no limit to the number of non-alcoholic beers you can drink!)

So those are the facts, but not all the facts. Read on for a closer look at the consequences of drinking and driving, plus some North Carolina-specific information that everyone should be aware of.

The Reality of Drunk Driving

You’ve probably seen the ads: “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” And seen plenty of DWI statistics. But unless you have personally felt the effects of drunk driving or you work as a personal injury lawyer representing actual people whose lives have been ripped apart by the real devastation a drunk driver can cause, it probably doesn’t hit home.

But home is exactly where drunk drivers hit – and hit hard.

Families shattered. Children and teens’ lives cut short. Relatives left permanently disabled. Severely disfigured. Brain damaged.

I’ll never forget my first DWI case in particular, involving a registered nurse on her way home from a long shift at the hospital.

My client was leaving work where she routinely aided her patients. The other driver – the drunk driver – was considered a heavy drinker. The drunk driver ran a red light, striking my client in the driver door. My client was unable to work for months due to a shoulder injury.

While we were not able to turn back time and prevent the collision from happening, we did everything we could to help our client. We sought money from the drunk driver to try to:

  • “fix” our client’s shoulder with surgery
  • “help” our client after her surgery with physical therapy to try to regain her mobility and strength
  • “make up for” the intangibles our client suffered in the form of pain and suffering

Also – as a collision involving impaired driving – we sought money from the drunk driver to “punish and deter” him from getting behind the wheel and putting someone else in the community at risk of serious injury or death.1

Drunk Driving: U.S. Facts

So here are those national statistics again. Read them. But this time read them knowing that each statistic represents a real person.

Drunk driving facts including frequency of accidents and deaths, and the worst time of the day.

  • NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts reported that in 2018, every 50 minutes a death occurred as a result of a drunk driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 or higher.

That’s 10,511 deaths.

  • Among those fatalities, 67% were in crashes in which at least one driver in the crash had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher – or roughly six to eight drinks in an hour.
  • Those 10,511 deaths represented 29% of all traffic fatalities for that year! Simply put, drunk drivers were behind about a third of all traffic deaths!
  • The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 was 4 times higher at night than during the day.
  • The highest rates of drunk driving occur among drivers aged 21-34. This age group makes up 52% of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal collisions.

Drunk Driving: North Carolina Stats

Unfortunately, 3,848 people were killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in North Carolina between 2009 and 2018. The state also had higher alcohol-impaired driving death rates than the U.S. for every age range, as well as for both sexes, in 2018.

This same year, North Carolina drivers who reported driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days (1.3%) was less than the national average (1.7%).

North Carolina death rates by drunk drivers are higher than the U.S. average for each age range.North Carolina drunk driving death rates are higher than the U.S. average for both males & females.

Am I Liable If I Serve Alcohol to Guests?

You may be. North Carolina law says that when an intoxicated guest causes an accident, the injured party may be able to seek damages from the host if certain conditions exist. So pay attention to the amount you serve your guests and read this list of Ten Way to Minimize Your Liability When Hosting a Holiday Party.

Drunk Driving Links Worth Sharing

We know what alcohol does to the body and brain – it slows our reactions, blurs our vision, makes us brave, and sometimes compels us to take unnecessary risks. Here are some links worth sharing with friends, family, and others – especially teens and twenty-somethings.

And, it bears repeating, if you’ve been drinking, call a cab, or Uber or Lyft. Contact a sober friend or relative. Use public transportation. Use your head – DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

 

St. Pat’s Day Parades, Plus Sober Ride Services

St. Patrick’s Day Among Deadliest for Alcohol-Related Crashes

While St. Patrick’s Day parades have offered fun and entertainment for all ages in year’s past, it’s a day of binge drinking for many. According to Wallethub, 75% of fatal drunk driving car crashes on St. Patrick’s Day involve a driver who has consumed more than 2X the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit in NC is 0.08.

St. Patrick’s Day is among the deadliest for alcohol-related crashes.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

NC Sober Ride Services Take You and Your Car Home

We don’t want to rain on anyone’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. We just want you to be safe getting to and from them (or any other event).

If you plan to drink, don’t drive. If you plan to drive, don’t drink. Designate a driver.

There are many services across North Carolina that offer designated rides home, and their rates are comparable to taxis, even cheaper in some cases. Whatever the cost, it’s cheaper than a DWI or worse – hospital bills and a lawsuit.

Here’s a list of North Carolina’s sober ride services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Fayetteville and their surrounding communities and towns.

These services take you and your car home.

There’s also Uber and Lyft in addition to local taxi services. Not only can they take you home, but you could take them to the parade and avoid any parking issues – or having to deal with other drivers who may have had one too many Guinness.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whatever you do and no matter where you are in North Carolina during St. Patrick’s Day, we hope this information is helpful in your efforts to safely celebrate it. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a drunk driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078

Parents Can Reduce Teen Crash Risk by 50% – Just By Getting Involved

Teenagers male and female drivers on road after car accidentIn 2012 alone, teen drivers in North Carolina crashed more than 40,000 times – resulting in 9,000 injuries and 71 deaths (according to the NC DMV).

That is a lot of car accidents.

But what if half of those accidents could be prevented?

According to a recent study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, all it may take is a little more instruction from parents.

The study reported that teens were half as likely to crash and 71% less likely to drink and drive if their parents helped teach them how to drive.

In addition, teens were two times more likely to wear their seat belt and 30% less likely to use a cell phone while driving. North Carolina is taking these statistics seriously and unveiled a new safety campaign aimed at getting parents more involved.

NC’s “Parent’s Supervised Driving Program”

Fox 8 reported in December that the North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles launched the safety campaign with a goal of boosting the amount and quality of training teen drivers receive from their parents.

The campaign, called the “Parent’s Supervised Driving Program,” encourages parents to go beyond the required 72 hours of supervised driving time and offers a number of important tips, advice, and other supportive materials for parents who are taking their teens on the road for driving lessons.

Under the Parent’s Supervised Driving Program campaign, teen drivers will be given a written curriculum for their parents when they obtain their learner’s permit. Fox 8 said that this curriculum contains helpful information for parents to make the most of their supervised time together, such as when and where they should take their teens driving.

You can even download their “RoadReady” app that tracks distance traveled, road types, and road conditions against each state’s specific driving requirements.

The campaign has been rolled out in several other states and operates entirely off of corporate sponsors.

Parents Need to Get Involved

Despite the evidence illustrating how much teen drivers can benefit from increased supervision while learning how to drive, the Parent’s Supervised Driving Program found that only 4% of parents used a resource while teaching their child how to drive and that parents often stop the supervised driving process early or overestimate the time they have spent supervising their teen.

It’s clear that increased parental supervision can go a long way toward preventing accidents, and we encourage all parents to take a more active role in training their teens how to drive. You can do your part to make North Carolina roads safe for everyone.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact a car accident lawyer in North Carolina. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we’ll be happy to evaluate your case for free. Just call us at 1-866-900-7078 today.

Children Killed by Drunk Drivers – the Numbers Are Higher Than You Think

When you hear the phrase “drunk driver,” the picture in your mind is probably a 20 or 30-something-year-old stumbling out of a bar and into the driver’s seat of a car late at night.

And what’s probably not in your mental picture is a crying baby in the backseat.

Because…well…there shouldn’t be one.

However, according to a recent news release by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), of the 181 children under the age of 15 who were killed by alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2011, more than half were killed riding WITH drunk drivers.

The release went on to say that MADD receives 17,000+ phone calls per year related to “child endangerment” – and they’re an organization specifically dedicated to eradicating the number of children killed by drunk drivers.

It has to stop.

Toddler boy sleeping in modern car seat“Every Child Deserves a Designated Driver”

That was the title of MADD’s news release.

According to MADD, children riding with a drunk driver are not only at risk because of the driver’s impairment, but also because drunk drivers are much less likely to use proper safety restraints, like child safety seats or seat belts.

In fatal crashes, drunk drivers were found to have only properly restrained their children 18% of the time, while sober drivers did so 30.5% of the time.

The release went on to say that MADD considers driving drunk with an underage child in the car to be child abuse and should be treated as such.

However, individual state laws vary widely on this issue.

Laws for children killed by drunk drivers

Currently, 43 states have enacted laws that impose stricter punishments for those found guilty of driving drunk with a child in their vehicle.

But some states only consider the crime a misdemeanor, while others have made it a felony with some pretty hefty punishments.

The state of New York is helping to lead the movement toward more serious actions against violators.

In 2009, the state enacted a “DUI Child Endangerment Law” they call “Leandra’s Law” – named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado who was killed on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York City when her friend’s mother flipped the car they were riding in, while under the influence of alcohol.

Leandra’s Law makes it possible to charge first time offenders (.08 Blood Alcohol Content and a child under 16 years-old in the car) with a class E felony that would be punishable by up to 4 years in state prison. In addition:

  • The driver’s license is automatically suspended.
  • The driver is required to install an ignition interlock in his or her vehicle for at least 6 months (beyond any term of imprisonment) – note, this applies to all drunk drivers, not just those with children in the vehicle.
  • Violators are automatically reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
  • If the drunk driving accident resulted in the child’s death, the driver could be charged with a Class B felony – punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.
  • If the drunk driving crash resulted in serious physical injury to the child, the driver could be charged with a Class C felony – punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

 

NC’s laws for children killed by drunk drivers

Driving drunk with a child under the age of 16 in the car is only punishable as a misdemeanor in North Carolina, although the penalties are somewhat stricter than those for just driving “under the influence.”

The North Carolina statute carries a penalty of 7 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. However, these penalties may increase to a jail term of 30 days to 24 months and a fine of no more than $4,000 under aggravating circumstances.

While North Carolina’s statute does not reach the level of Leandra’s Law, it does contain harsher penalties than a number of states who have not enacted similar statutes.

Read More: full list of DUI Child Endangerment Laws in each state

Was your child killed by a drunk driver?

If so, we extend our very deepest and most heartfelt sympathies – we can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through.

No amount of money can replace your loved one. But it might help raise awareness of the issue and, no matter who was at fault, your family may be eligible for compensation.

Please give us a call for a free case evaluation. We would appreciate the opportunity to help you if we can.