The Tar Heel State ranks in the top 10 in the nation in the combined rate of DUI fatalities and drunk-driving arrests. North Carolina saw 421 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2018, which accounted for 29% of all highway fatalities.

A study conducted by public records website BackgroundChecks.org analyzed data from the FBI along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The South is the deadliest region for drunk driving

The survey finds seven of the 12 states with the highest DUI fatality rates are in the southern region and include North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Each state’s “DUI severity score” was calculated by combining its DUI arrest rate per 100,000 people, along with the DUI fatality rate for every 100,000 citizens. North Carolina’s DUI severity score is 9.24.

Drunk-driving death toll rises during the holidays

The U.S. Department of Transportation says an average of 300 people die in drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. between Christmas and New Year’s, and nearly 800 die in the month of December.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol posts several DUI checkpoints with help from local law enforcement agencies statewide in an effort to spot drunk drivers. A Dec. 14 checkpoint in Wayne County resulted in 12 arrests.

What should I do if I’m stopped for DUI

An officer must have probable cause to stop you for DUI. If you are pulled over, here are five things to do:

  • Safely move to the side of the road immediately and stay in your car
  • Be polite to officers and follow their requests
  • Invoke your constitutional rights to remain silent
  • Don’t offer potentially incriminating information
  • Stay calm if you are arrested and ask for a lawyer

Understand your rights if charged with DUI

An experienced defense attorney in North Carolina can challenge the officer’s decision to stop you as well as the results of a breath or field sobriety test. Many devices that measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are unreliable, while some officers are improperly trained to administer the tests.