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DWI Accidents – The Criminal and Personal Injury Perspective

The majority of the thousands of DWI arrests in Wake County do not include an accident, specifically a multi-vehicle accident. Most DWI stops are the result of a traffic law violation or suspicious driving, but thankfully, few North Carolina DWI’s include the component of a vehicle accident.

In North Carolina, it is legal to drink and drive (so long as someone is not appreciably impaired or above the legal limit), it is certainly not wise to do so. My advice is to not drink and drive at all, especially if you’ve been charged with a DWI previously.

From the criminal courts’ perspective, while DWI accidents and fatalities have declined over the past thirty years, they are still a cause of injury and death. North Carolina has had far too many news headlines about the impacts drunk drivers have had on the road and as a result, DWI’s are vigorously prosecuted. When a DWI results in injury or death, a driver can be charged with Felony Injury by Motor Vehicle, Felony Death by Motor Vehicle or even Second Degree Murder.

From a North Carolina personal injury point of view, the consequences of an accident caused by an impaired driver are much greater than an accident that does not involve a DWI. Injuries caused by drunk drivers can be life changing – for the drunk driver, the accident victims, and their families. A victim of a DWI accident has additional legal leverage because North Carolina law allows a DWI accident victim to file compensation claims for punitive damages in addition to the standard medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Juries will often award large punitive damages to send a clear message to the community that drunk driving will not be tolerated.

North Carolina DWI’s carry both criminal and civil consequences. A driver convicted of DWI can face a loss of their license, fines, probation, and jail time. In addition to these criminal penalties, they may face significant financial penalties as a result of a personal injury claim that can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The impact of such a financial judgment can often be longer reaching that the criminal consequences.

If you have been charged with a DWI in Wake County, or you have been injured at the hands of an impaired driver in North Carolina, contact a North Carolina criminal and personal injury attorney at The Chetson Firm for a free consultation.



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