Drunk driving is the act of driving while under the influence of alcohol. When a person drinks and then operates a vehicle, the risk of car accidents, injury, and death are greatly increased. While all US states have laws against drunk driving, there are still people that choose to make the poor decision to get in a vehicle after consuming alcohol. Punishments for driving under the influence vary by state but can include license suspension, jail time, alcohol education classes, and more. If a drunk driver injures another person, the penalties can be much more severe. While there are many steps being taken to provide people with education and try to decrease instances of drunk driving, it does still happen. The following facts and statistics will provide some insight into the consequences of drunk driving.
Drunk Driving Statistics
- On average, drunk drivers that are fatally injured in accidents, have a BAC, or blood alcohol content, of .16.
- Compared to drivers with no alcohol in their system, those with a high blood alcohol content are 385 times more likely to be involved in a single vehicle crash.
- Approximately a third of all drivers that are arrested and/or convicted for driving under the influence are repeat offenders.
- Since the founding of the MADD organization in 1980, the number deaths caused by drunk driving in the United States has been cut in half.
- More than 50% of drivers convicted of driving under the influence continue to drive even after their license has been suspended.
- Each year, drunk driving costs the United States billions of dollars.
- As many as approximately one in three drivers will be involved in a drunk driving related crash.
- A person sustains an injury in a drunk driving accident on average once every 90 seconds.
- Males are almost twice as likely to drive drunk as females.
- In 2011 alone, drunk driving fatalities accounted for more than 30% of the total number of vehicle related fatalities.
- In 2012, one person died every 51 minutes as the result of drunk driving crashes, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths within the year.
- Drunk driving that involves a fatal crash is approximately 4.5 times more likely to happen during the night than during the day.
- Of those arrested for drunk driving, many have driven drunk approximately 80 times prior to their first arrest.
- The drunk driving rate is highest among those 21 to 25 years old.
While drunk driving statistics can be scary, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the problem. Many states have implemented zero tolerance laws for drunk drivers who are underage. Mandatory classes or substance abuse treatment is required for offenders in some states. Other measures that can be effective in reducing drunk driving include the use of sobriety checkpoints, health promotion efforts, and community based education.
Learn more about drunk driving with the following resources:
- Drunk Driving – Facts and information from the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) organization.
- Impaired Driving: Get the Facts – A fact sheet from the CDC with facts on drunk driving, who is at risk, prevention measures, and more.
- Drinking and Driving – Information on the problem of drinking and driving, possible solutions, and how to protect yourself.
- State Drunk Driving Laws – A chart highlighting the drunk driving laws for every US state.
- Teen Driving Crash & Fatality Stats – The facts on teen driving crashes including statistics on teen drunk driving.
- What’s in a Name: The Many Ways to Say DUI – An article that explains the differences between DUI, DWI, and DWAI.
- Estimated BAC Information – Charts and information on a BAC (blood alcohol concentration), the measure of the amount of alcohol in a person’s system.
- Impaired Driving – The latest reports from the NHTSA (National Highway Safety Transportation) on impaired driving.
- Drunk Driving By The Numbers – Information and charts from the Department of Transportation featuring drunk driving statistics.
- Drunk Driving Prevention – Information on the work the Ad Council has done to help prevent drunk driving.
- Drunk Driving Fatalities – National statistics on drunk driving fatalities in an easy to read graph.
- Preventing Drunk Driving – Information on the measures that can and are being used to prevent drunk driving.
- Drunk Driving Prevention Organizations – A list of organizations that work to prevent drunk driving.
- Drinking and Driving – Drinking and driving information including how alcohol affects the system and while driving under the influence is a crime.
By Ted Burgess