A young man is facing drunk driving charges after allegedly being in a car accident on Highway 13 near the Beaufort-Pitt County line over the weekend. Police believe the teen was heading east on Highway 33 when he lost control of his car. Authorities say that the car hit a road sign, careened into a ditch and slammed into a light pole, knocking it down.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol says that the teen called his family after the wreck. But troopers say the teen fled the area on foot. Troopers apparently responded to the scene of the accident and apparently waited for the teen's family to arrive. Authorities say that the troopers commanded the family members to go find the teen.
The Highway Patrol says that the teen's family brought him to the scene of the accident. At that point, the 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to maintain lane control.
It is not clear in the media what level of drunk driving charges the young man faces after the alleged incident. Most people know that the legal limit to drive in North Carolina is set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. That is what is known as the per se level of impairment, where the law-unfortunately-assumes impairment for all drivers. However, law enforcement and prosecutors can also bring charges based upon the observations of officers in a normal DWI case, if the officers believe that the driver was impaired while driving.
But for underage drivers--those who are under the age of 21--North Carolina law allows authorities to pursue underage DUI charges based upon any evidence of consumption. A teen or 20-year-old driver can face underage drinking and driving charges when well below the general legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC.
Source: WITN, "Teen Flees Scene Of Wreck, Charged With DWI," Dec. 17, 2012