During the summer and over holidays like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day, many efforts may focus on encouraging people not to drive if they choose to drink alcoholic beverages. Campaigns tout using designated drivers, rideshare services or other options as an alternative.

Despite the seemingly prolific advocacy and awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drunk driving, too many lives in North Carolina continue to be lost at the hands of impaired drivers.

North Carolina drunk driving laws

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the state recognizes five levels of driving while impaired offenses, ranked from a Level I to a Level V with Level I being the most severe. Any sentences imposed on a defendant for a Level III, IV or V DWI offense may be suspended by a judge’s order, including the requirement to spend time in jail. Fines for these three levels do not exceed $1,000.

North Carolina drunk driving fatalities

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that drunk drivers continue to kill many people in North Carolina roads and highways. In each of the five years spanning 2014 to 2018, alcohol was a stated factor in anywhere between 28% and 30% of the state’s total vehicular fatalities.

In Iredell County, the picture becomes more tragic. In 2014, drunk driving deaths represented 22% of the county’s total accident deaths that year. In 2018, impaired driving due to alcohol was a contributing factor in nearly 42% of the county’s vehicular fatalities. The jump in drunk driving deaths may logically make people wonder if the state’s laws against drunk driving are strong enough.