North Carolina is a state that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains in the west with varying driving conditions especially as you reach the Piedmont plains and the foothills of the mountains. With Raleigh and Charlotte becoming two of the fastest growing urban areas in the US recently, congestion has also become an issue to watch for.
Ocean to Mountain
The state of North Carolina is quite wide east to west and relatively short north to south and has five Interstates that transect it in the same directions including the I40, I74, I77, I85 and the I95 with I495, I485 and I540 around Charlotte and Raleigh. With quite a number of Interstates in North Carolina you have an easy time of getting to every corner of the state fairly easily. As one of the first states in the Union and an early colony it has developed a consistent road and highway system providing access across the state.
If you are driving you may recognize three different geographical areas in North Carolina. At the Atlantic coast, it is considered the coastal region. Since it is near to the ocean, there is generally no fear of snow concerns for winter driving although there may be concern for icy conditions in the northeast of the state near the ocean. However, the larger concern is the landfall of Hurricanes or Tropical storms. If these are pending it is best to stay off the roads.
In the middle of the state is the Piedmont region, a plateau between the coastal plains and the mountains. This is essentially the foothills to the mountains and ranges from larger hills to rolling hills in the central part of the state. In this area, there can be snow, especially in the northern sections; however, the most dangerous aspect of this area is its freezing rain. The fact that the most populous area of North Carolina lies within this area makes it even more dangerous for driving. Be sure to take extra time or stay off the roads during freezing rain storms.
The mountains can expect more snow in the winter and more volatile weather. If you are travelling in the extreme west of the state, especially during the colder months, be sure to check in with the DOT for weather reports and road closures.
Only 5 areas in the US have this old and some say outdated rule for compensation recovery from accidents, and North Carolina is one of them. The pure contributory negligence rule means that if you are in an accident and are assigned any percentage of blame, you are entitled to no compensation. So if you were speeding, or failed to apply the brakes or any other issue that may have contributed to the severity of the accident in North Carolina you will receive no court awarded compensation.
This can also come into play if you are trying to settle out of court with an insurance settlement. As insurers know if they can prove contributory negligence they would be better off taking the suit to court, you need an attorney to ensure you are trapped into admitting any negligence. The state is an at fault state, so if most claims are settled privately for small accidents, but those with injuries almost always get settled by an insurance claim or in a civil suit. If you are a victim in an accident make sure you have not contributed to the severity of your accident.
Driving While Impaired
North Carolina uses a tiered system for penalties for their DWI charges in the state that can include any “provable” state of impairment including drugs, alcohol or drugs. So if you receive a DWI in North Carolina it may refer to various factors in the judgement of the arresting officer including the limit of 0.8% BAC for alcohol.
In the tier system of North Carolina you could actually be back driving under limited conditions under tiers 3-5 if you agree to a drug or alcohol recovery program, consented to the roadside testing, it is your first offense and the court decides in your favor. Under this system, you may be able to drive with limitations as applied by the court. After a first offense you may also be subject to a maximum 0.4% BAC maximum. Navigating the different tiers and their penalties can be confusing, so having an attorney explaining them to you would be advisable. These penalties include fines, imprisonment, ignition interlock devices, community service, license suspensions, drug or alcohol recovery programs and more.
2 Demerit Systems
Insurance costs are lower than average in North Carolina, but it may be in part due to the fact that there is a demerit point system in place that allows insurers to raise your premiums after just 1 moving violation. If you receive just 1 point under the insurer’s demerit point system your insurance premiums could increase by up to 30%. More points mean they can raise your premiums even more. Driving safely and avoiding certain traffic violations is very important under this system.
The NCDOT uses a demerit point system like many states to keep track of repeat offenders and penalize them with license suspensions. Twelve points in 3 years results in your first license suspension, but at 7 points you may be required to take a driver improvement clinic to reduce 3 points from your record.
Driving safely with these facts in mind can keep your insurance premiums lower and ensure the best outcome in accidents.
Did You Know That…
1. The University of North Carolina was the first public university in the US.
2. The first US born English citizen was Virginia Dare born in 1587 in North Carolina.
3. North Carolina is 1 of only 5 areas in the US that has pure contributory negligence.
4. Raleigh and Charlotte are two of the fastest growing urban areas in the US.
5. You can get a learner’s permit at 15 years old.
6. Pepsi was created in North Carolina.
7. DWI charges can include all impairment types, not just alcohol.
8. The Biltmore Estate is the largest private house in the world with 250 rooms.
9. Insurers can raise your premiums by up to 30% for certain traffic violations.
10. North Carolina is an at fault state requiring financial responsibility for accidents for all licensed drivers.