Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol: Drunk Driving Statistics
by Felicia Lowe
Everyone knows that driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is a dangerous and inconsiderate action that endangers not only the driver but the safety and lives of others as well. And yet, a staggering number of accidents and fatalities still happen every year due to impaired driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense defined as managing a vehicle while alcohol, drugs, or both are in your system. Since these substances are frequently addictive, it can be particularly hard for those who are reliant on these substances to avoid using them, even when they are about to get behind the wheel. For these people, it’s important to get drug and alcohol treatment before they harm themselves or others. If they are arrested for and convicted of DUI, often, a court will make the decision for them by ordering them to complete an addiction treatment program.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Facts
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have calculated that a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of 0.08 percent is equal to about four alcoholic drinks in an hour, based on the body of an average 160-pound man.
- One drink equals about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. This is equal to a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, about 8 ounces of malt liquor, or 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor.
- A standard 12-ounce beer is about 5% alcohol.
- A standard 8-ounce glass of malt liquor is about 7% alcohol.
- A standard 5-ounce glass of wine is about 12% alcohol.
- A standard 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof distilled liquor (such as gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey) is about 40% alcohol.
Facts About Driving Under the Influence
- According to the CDC, 31% of car accident deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver.
- If your BAC is above 0.08 percent, then you are considered too impaired to drive in the U.S.
- Some states refer to DUI as DWI (driving while intoxicated) or OUI (operating under the influence), though the definitions of these terms will vary by state.
- The CDC’s research has shown that 16% of car accidents involve drugs, either legal or illegal.
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) statistics show that almost half of drivers killed in car accidents who tested positive for drugs had also consumed alcohol.
- Drunk driving doesn’t just cost lives; MADD estimates that it costs the U.S. $132 billion a year, $500 for every adult in America.
- In America, an average of 27 people are killed in a drunk driving incident every day, and someone is injured due to drunk driving every two minutes.
- MADD has found that kids who drink alcohol are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related vehicle accident.
- An average of two out of three people will likely be involved in a drunk-driving-related incident in their lifetime, whether they are the driver or are in a vehicle hit by a drunk driver.
- Passengers involved in motor vehicle accidents may not be held fully liable, but they may sometimes be held partially liable; some states may require either mandatory or discretionary BAC testing of passengers after an incident. A bar or party host may also be liable for serving the alcohol.
- According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, pedestrians are actually more vulnerable in alcohol-related accidents than drivers.
- Though there were 3.2% more deaths due to drunk driving in 2015 than there were in 2014, the number of drunk-driving-related deaths is slowly declining (about 65% since 1982, in fact).
- Traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers accounted for 17% of the deaths of children ages 0-14 in 2010; sadly, 65% of those children were passengers in a vehicle with an impaired driver.
- Fifteen percent of those children, according to MADD, were pedestrians.
- Anti-DUI laws (and the enforcement of them) and public awareness have helped reduce impaired driving by 50% in Great Britain, 37% in Germany, 32% in Australia, 28% in Canada and The Netherlands, and 26% in the United States.
- Motorcyclists are also very susceptible to fatal impaired-driving incidents, especially if they are older, according to the CDC.
- The CDC has found that repeat offenders have a greater risk of drunk-driving accidents. Drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes are seven times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction.
- Males are more likely to drive drunk than females.
- The CDC has noted that fatal impaired-driving incidents occur more frequently involving younger people; 30% of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 were between the ages of 21-24, 29% ages 25-34, and 24% ages 35-44.
- The consumption of alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment, balance, and vision.
- There is a fatal alcohol-related crash every 51 minutes.
- Though an impaired-driving accident can occur at any time, there is a higher risk at night and on weekends.
- The CDC and the U.N. General Assembly have teamed up to enhance road safety and find ways to prevent impaired driving.
- Two of the best ways to avoid drunk driving are to have a designated driver or take public transportation.
- An average of one out of every 13 people drive drunk every weeknight between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.
- According to MADD, more than a third of teenagers believe that marijuana does not impair their driving; in fact, they believe it makes them drive better.
Talking to Your Kids About Driving Under the Influence
- Teenage Drinking: Understanding the Dangers and Talking to Your Child: More than half of those younger than 21 in the U.S. have tried alcohol, which exposes them to many risk factors.
- Facts About Teenage Drinking and Driving: According to Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD, the fatality rate of alcohol-related incidents in young adults ages 18-20 is twice as high as that of those older than 21.
- Seven Ways to Stop Teens From Drinking and Driving: This article reports that having a plan, including establishing rules and consequences, having a secret code word or phrase with your teen, or having them sign a written contract, can help prevent teens from driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver.
- Talking to Your Child About Drugs: Acting out different scenarios with your kids through role-playing can help them know how to act and what to say if they ever encounter a situation where they might be endangered by drugs or alcohol.
- How to Talk to Your Child About Marijuana: This page suggests four responses to common things your teen might say or ask about marijuana. When it comes to marijuana, many kids know that it is legal in some places, but make sure they understand that it is still illegal for many people and it is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
- Drugs and Driving: Studies show that about one in five parents and a third of teens believe that driving under the influence of marijuana isn’t as bad as drunk driving.
- Driving After Using Marijuana: This page provides information on why driving after using marijuana is not safe.
- Preventing Impaired Driving in Your Teen: If parents are proactive about helping teens to avoid drinking and setting consequences for them, it can help reduce the likelihood that they’ll end up driving drunk.
- When Should You Talk to Your Kids About Alcohol? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start the conversation about alcohol with their kids well before the age at which they might be tempted to try it.
- Help Teens Avoid Regret: Having an open dialogue with your teen is key to helping them avoid the dangers of impaired driving, whether they’re the potential driver or passenger.