Police believe that the man they blame for causing a deadly head-on collision in Lumberton, North Carolina (NC), at 1 am on February 6, 2017, was driving under the influence of alcohol. The fatal crash on U.S. 74 left the at-fault driver critically injured and the two 18 year olds in the other car dead.
The wrong-way driver was traveling east in the westbound lanes of the highway south of Fayetteville when he struck the teens’ car. The two innocent victims, identified in multiple news reports as a freshman at UNC-Charlotte and her boyfriend since high school, died at the scene. Law enforcement officials were still considering which charges to file against the surviving driver a day after the wreck.
Results from blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests will confirm whether the wrong-way driver was drunk. North Carolina, like every state, makes it illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .08 or higher. That degree of intoxication is known to make most people dangerous behind the wheel because it leaves them more drowsy, slower to recognize danger, less coordinated and more mentally confused than they would be when sober.
It is no coincidence that drunk driving is often cited in connection with causing a wrong-way crash that leaves other people badly injured or dead. Intoxication also leads to far too many fatal traffic accidents in the Tar Heel State. According to statistics compiled by the North Carolina Alcohol Facts project run by the Highway Safety Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, 29.2 percent of fatal crashes in North Carolina during 2015 (372 of 1,273) involved driving while intoxicated (DWI), which is the term state statutes use to refer to the offense many other states call DUI.
Proving that the at-fault driver committed a DWI offense will not be necessary for the families of the teenagers who lost their lives to file and collect on wrongful death insurance claims. Gathering enough evidence to show that the surviving driver acted negligently by driving into oncoming traffic would suffice to prove liability for insurance purposes. Removing doubt over alcohol use, however, could paint the at-fault driver as reckless and subject to paying punitive damages, which are noncriminal monetary penalties.
Working with a dedicated and knowledgeable Carolina wrongful death attorney would help the grieving families deal with both police investigators and insurance company representatives while they focus of honoring their loved ones.