Drunk drivers are one of the most common causes of high speed automobile accidents. In North Carolina, these drivers may be charged and convicted of Driving While Impaired (DWI) pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1. If you have been injured because of the negligence of drunk driver, contact the Raleigh personal injury firm of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526. Our firm can assist you in recovering fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In most DWI accident cases, our attorneys will also pursue a recovery of punitive damages.
North Carolina refers to a drunken driving offense as a DWI. In some jurisdictions the offense is still referred to as Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The relevant North Carolina statute, N.C.G.S § 20-138.1, provides that “[a] person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:
(1) While under the influence of an impairing substance; or
(2) After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or
(3) With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90‑89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine.”
A DWI conviction of the at-fault driver is important to your personal injury case in several respects. First, it is very strong evidence that he or she caused the accident. The conviction makes it less likely the insurance company’s adjuster or lawyer will aggressively pursue a contributory negligence claim. Driving impaired does not necessarily mean the driver caused your accident, but the intoxication does make it more likely than not that the jury will err on your side when it comes to the issue of liability.
Next, the fact that the driver was impaired will be highly persuasive to the jury in determining appropriate compensatory damages. The jury is more likely to want to fully compensate you if the at-fault driver was convicted of a DWI than if he or she had just rear-ended you out of a lack of attention. Finally, a DWI conviction means that you should get to the jury on the question of punitive damages. The jury will be able to award punitive damages of up to the greater of $250,000.00 or three times your compensatory damages. So, if your compensatory damages were $150,000.00, the jury could award you as much as $450,000.00 in punitive damages.
The Raleigh lawyers of Maginnis Law provide free consultations and evaluations to all victims of drunk drivers, including their passengers, and would be happy to represent you against the at-fault driver and his or her automobile insurance company. We regularly handle cases from Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Clayton, Morrisville, Wake Forest, Fayetteville, and the surrounding Triangle Area. We take all personal injury matters on a contingency basis so that you pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until we make a financial recovery for you.
If you or a family member has been injured in car accident caused by a drunk driver in Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Chatham, Orange, Alamance, Johnston, Nash, Moore, or Lee County, contact the automobile accident attorneys of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526 or 919.526.0450. You may also submit a new case inquiry by visiting our contact page.