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Liability of an impaired driver who causes a car accident

Car accidents are caused by a variety of reasons. One major cause of car accidents is traffic rule violations. Distracted driving, in which the driver's ability to drive safely is compromised due to various diversions, is also a leading cause of car accidents in North Carolina.

North Carolina, with the governor's support, has enacted very strict rules and laws that address impaired driving or driving while intoxicated. The state has a history of tough responses to impaired driving with various levels of DWI charges. Even prior to this initiative, the state had often confiscated and sold a car if its driver was found to be a habitual DWI offender. The state believes the initiatives are necessary to curb drunk driving car accidents.

The legally permissible blood alcohol level for non-commercial vehicles is 0.08 percent. For commercial vehicle drivers, the legal blood alcohol level is half that level, or 0.04 percent. However, repeat non-commercial offenders may be subjected to more stringent laws in which their driving licenses may be revoked if they register a BAC level of 0.04 percent or greater.

North Carolina does not allow drivers who are conspicuously drunk or found to have a BAC level exceeding the legal limit to keep their cars. Rates of car accidents caused by drunk or impaired driving are significantly higher in other states, because North Carolina imposes severe penalties on DWI or DUI offenders. Penalties may include revocation or suspension of a driving license, along with heavy fines. Habitual offenders also may have to use a special ignition interlock system, which does not allow a drunk person to start the car. If a driver is found to have committed any form of misdemeanor due to impaired driving, he or she also may face jail time.

Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety, "Information concerning alcohol and driving while impaired," accessed on Oct.17, 2014

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