What Are Common Types of Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers?

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A shot glass on a wooden table with a set of car keys next to it, and a piece of paper labelled "the end" resting on it.All accidents caused by drunk drivers are preventable.

There were 11,639 arrests made because of driving while intoxicated in 2019, and 323 people were killed by drunk drivers in that same year. Victims who survived these preventable collisions suffered horrific injuries such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Organ damage
  • Spinal injuries
  • Paralysis

The most common types of accidents caused by drunk drivers are as follows:

  • Rear End Collisions – Alcohol inhibits a driver’s ability to accurately judge distances and delays reaction times. The driver may incorrectly believe there is enough distance to stop, or the driver may be unable to react quickly enough to a vehicle slowing or stopping.
  • Head-On Collisions – Alcohol has a sedative-like effect that can make drivers fall asleep and drift into oncoming traffic. Alcohol also impairs a driver’s vision and comprehension of traffic signals, signs, and the actions of other drivers. This type of crash has very serious consequences and is far too common among drunk drivers.
  • Wrong Way Collisions – While similar to head-on collisions in damage, these crashes are caused by drunk drivers missing signage and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way road. This often occurs on interstate or other divided highways where the drunk driver does not realize that they are traveling in the opposite direction of traffic.
  • Collisions Involving a Pedestrian – Drunk drivers become visually impaired, according to Healthline, and have trouble focusing on the road. They might not see the person until after they hit them. These gruesome collisions are usually devastating for the victim’s family.

What Percent of Car Accidents Are Caused by Drunk Drivers?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 31% of all traffic accidents that result in fatalities involve drunk drivers. 13,384 people were killed in 2021 by drunk driving.

That equates to one person killed every 39 minutes. Drunk driving is illegal, yet thousands of people are killed every year by people committing this crime.

How Many Drunk Drivers Die in the Accidents They Caused?

In 2020, 62% of the people who were needlessly killed in drunk driving accidents were impaired drivers. 38% were the passengers of the drunk driver.

Men are reported to be more likely to drink and drive than women.

Why Do So Many Drunk Drivers Die in the Accidents They Cause?

Drunk drivers are less likely to wear their seatbelts than sober drivers. In 2020, 66% of impaired drivers killed were not wearing their seatbelts, while 44% of sober drivers were not wearing their seatbelts.

How Many Children Are Killed by Drunk Drivers?

229 children under 14 years old were killed by drunk drivers in 2020. 5% of high school students admit to driving after drinking alcohol, and 17% admit to being a passenger of an underage drunk driver.

What Are the Penalties for Drunk Driving?

North Carolina is not a friendly state for drunk drivers. Offenders have to face strict penalties when they are caught and convicted.

  • North Carolina is an implied consent state, meaning anyone driving on public roadways is agreeing to submit to a test for their blood alcohol concentration if the police deem it appropriate. Refusing the test, even if not intoxicated, results in a driver’s license suspension for one year. Anyone over 21 years old is legally intoxicated at 0.08 and higher, while anyone under 21 years old cannot legally have any alcohol in their system. Commercial drivers will be charged with driving while intoxicated starting at 0.04.
  • If the driver’s blood alcohol content is found at or above their respective legal limits, they are charged with driving while intoxicated, and their vehicle is impounded for ten days.
  • Driving privileges are revoked for 30 days when charged with driving while intoxicated.

Sentencing After Conviction

There are six sentencing levels ranging from level five to aggravated level one. Level five is the least severe, with aggravated level one holding the highest punishment for the worst offenders.

  • Level 5 – A minimum of 48 hours of jail time or community service and up to a $200 fine
  • Level 4 – A minimum of 48 hours of jail time or community service and up to a $500 fine
  • Level 3 – A minimum of 72 hours of jail time or community service and up to a $500 fine
  • Level 2 – 7 days to 12 months of jail time and up to a $2000 fine
  • Level 1 – 30 days to 24 months of jail time and up to a $4000 fine
  • Aggravated Level 1 – 12 to 36 months of jail time and up to a $10,000 fine

Aggravating Factors Determining Sentencing Levels

Aggravating factors are elements that make the crime more severe than if the factor was not present. In North Carolina, they can include:

  • A previous driving while intoxicated conviction within the past seven years
  • A DWI conviction with a suspended license for another DWI conviction
  • Serious injury to a victim of a drunk driving accident caused by driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while intoxicated with a child under 18 years old in the vehicle

If one of these factors is present in your case, you are given a level two sentence. If two factors are present, you are given level one.

If three or more factors are present, you must face aggravated level one. The judge will also consider all other factors of your situation when determining whether you should face jail time or community service and how much you should pay in fines.

Hidden Fees

In addition to the court-mandated fines and fees, a conviction of driving while intoxicated has other financial costs. These additional costs include:

  • The fee to obtain your vehicle from the impound lot.
  • Installation and subscription fees for your ignition interlock device.
  • Fees to restore your driver’s license.
  • Fees for Drug and Alcohol Traffic Education School.
  • The increased cost of insurance premiums.
  • Lost wages from being unable to work while attending community service, required education, and substance abuse assessment.
  • Loss of employment from being unable to commute to your job or from your driving while intoxicated conviction, as some professions do not allow drunk driving convictions.

Contact a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Today

All accidents caused by drunk drivers are completely preventable, and the offender should be held responsible. If you or someone you know has been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact Tatum & Atkinson at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation.

Navigating the legal system is challenging. Our experienced drunk driving accident lawyers will help you decide the best course of action for your case.

We will get you all the compensation you are legally entitled to receive as quickly as possible.