Fatal Raleigh interstate crash blamed on teen's impairment

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Laws set boundaries that some drivers choose to ignore. All states consider an adult driver with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or more to be intoxicated, although charges can be brought against drivers with lower BAC levels when impairment is evident. It is illegal for North Carolina drivers under 21 to be under the influence of any controlled substances or alcohol.

An 18-year-old woman was driving her boyfriend's Toyota on Interstate 40 in Raleigh when she lost control of the car. A witness told 911 dispatchers the Toyota driver tried to change lanes. At the last second, the driver swerved away after noticing another vehicle already occupied the lane.

Although police haven't confirmed the details, the witness said the overcorrection apparently caused the Toyota to run off the road and hit a tree. One of two male passengers, a 20-year-old Cary man sitting in the front seat, died instantly in the motor vehicle accident. The driver and a male back seat passenger, an 18-year-old Cary teen who wasn't wearing a seat belt, were seriously injured.

Authorities said the underage female driver was impaired by something that wasn't alcohol. The Toyota crashed at a speed higher than the posted limit. More charges against the teen may follow, including death by vehicle and an adult DWI charge.

The military academy graduate who died had been living with his parents in Cary and working at a pet shop. The surviving male passenger was listed in good condition the day after the accident, while the accused teen driver remained in serious condition.

The age of 18 is the first of two age thresholds. Drivers can be prosecuted as adults at 18 but are considered minors when laws prohibit certain activities, like alcohol use, until age 21. Victims of drug-related and drunk driving accidents have a right to file claims against negligent drivers of any age.

Source: Cary News, " Family grieves for Cary man killed in I-40 crash" Thomasi McDonald, News & Observer, May. 30, 2014