Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Charlotte
Dedicated to Holding Drunk Drivers Accountable
There is never an excuse for getting behind the wheel of a car or motor vehicle when drunk. Every year, intoxicated drivers cause countless car accidents, resulting in tens of thousands of fatalities and even more injuries.
At Payne Law Firm, we represent victims of drunk drivers, as well as the surviving family members of those killed in drunk driving accidents. Our Charlotte drunk driving accident lawyer is dedicated to holding drunk drivers accountable for the harm they cause. A skilled and accomplished trial lawyer, Jason E. Payne has a proven record of success. He and our entire firm are ready to fight for you and the justice you deserve.
North Carolina DWI Laws
In North Carolina, as in all other states in the U.S., it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle of any kind while intoxicated. The state defines “driving while impaired” (DWI) as operating a motor vehicle in any public location while under the influence of an impairing substance or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08% or higher. Commercial vehicle drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or above. Additionally, anyone found to be operating a vehicle while under the influence of a Schedule I controlled substance can be found guilty of DWI in North Carolina.
It is important to note that North Carolina law states that a person can be charged with DWI even if their BAC is lower than 0.08% if that individual is significantly impaired as a result of consuming an impairing substance. Additionally, a person can face DWI charges if they have “actual physical control” of a vehicle while impaired, even if that vehicle is not in motion.
How Does a Drunk Driving Accident Claim Differ from a DWI Criminal Charge?
When a person causes a drunk driving accident, they face two possible legal cases: a criminal case and a civil lawsuit. While a criminal case involves certain criminal penalties, such as jail time and driver’s license suspension, a civil lawsuit is intended to compensate victims who were injured as a result of the drunk driving accident.
A drunk driving civil lawsuit can allow you to recover compensation for the following damages:
- All medical expenses related to the accident
- Lost income/wages
- Future medical expenses and lost earnings
- Reduced/lost earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
If your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you may be able to recover the following damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Medical expense associated with last treatments
- Funeral/burial costs
- Loss of income/financial support
- Loss of household/childcare services
- Loss of love, companionship, support, guidance, etc.
- Pain and suffering the decedent endured prior to death
- Loss of consortium
Additionally, one may also pursue punitive damages when the at-fault person is found to have acted especially negligently or with reckless disregard for the lives of others. Punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and help prevent future similar accidents.
Notably, the outcome of any criminal proceedings that may (or may not) take place does not necessarily affect the outcome of a civil lawsuit, although a guilty finding in a criminal case can serve as proof of negligence in your civil claim.
North Carolina Drunk Driving Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control reported that between 2009 and 2018 over 3,800 individuals were killed in drunk driving accidents in North Carolina alone. They also reported that the average age for individuals killed in these accidents was between 21 and 34 years old.
On a national scale, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019 over 10,000 individuals lost their lives in drunk driving accidents throughout the United States. While this number is down year over year since 1982, each of these deaths were preventable.
Can a Bar Be Held Liable for a Drunk Driver?
In some cases a bar can be held responsible for a drunk driving accident. North Carolina allows "dram shop" charges to be filed against establishments that provide alcohol to minors. However, there may be some instances where the bar could be found guilty of continuing to serve alcohol to someone who was visibly intoxicated (which is also against the law). Some other parties that may be found partially liable for a DWI accident include:
- A private individual who overserved alcohol at an event they were hosting
- An employer who allowed their employee to become intoxicated while on-the-job
- A vehicle owner who allowed the drunk individual to drive their car while intoxicated
- The driver themselves
How Payne Law Firm Can Help
At Payne Law Firm, we understand the devastation drunk driving causes, both for victims and their families. Our team is ready to advocate for you and the justice you deserve.
If you were injured in a drunk driving crash or if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, reach out to Payne Law Firm to learn how we can help you. We offer free initial consultations where we can discuss your specific situation, answer your questions, and begin devising a legal strategy tailored to your particular concerns and goals.
There are no upfront costs when you hire us; instead, we only collect attorney’s fees when we successfully secure compensation for you.