A driver is legally considered drunk when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher, and it takes about three standard drinks for an adult to reach this BAC level.
BAC levels of 0.08 or higher impair judgment, limiting a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. The outcomes of drunk driving can be severe and that is why driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all states.
Drunk driving kills 28 people daily, translating to one death every 52 minutes. This statistic makes driving under the influence of alcohol a main cause of traffic fatalities.
Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year
Driving under the influence of alcohol related fatalities consist of about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities annually, and over 100,000 people die yearly due to drunk driving.
However, the number of DUI related fatalities has been slowly reducing in recent years. The deaths reduced from 10,967 in 2016 to 10,142 in 2019. The percentage share of the total traffic fatalities also decreased by 1 percent over the same period.
Drunk Driving By Age
Unfortunately, young drivers are more likely to drink and drive. Twenty-seven percent of all fatal DUI related crashes involved drivers aged between 21 and 24. Drivers aged 25 to 35 followed closely with a 25 percent share of the fatal DUI related crashes.
Therefore, young drivers aged between 21 and 35 account for over half of the fatal DUI related crashes. This severity explains why minimum-drinking-age laws have so far saved over 30,000 lives.
Drunk Driving By Gender
Men are more likely to drink and drive than women. In particular, men are involved in 80 percent of all drunk driving fatalities. Men also cause four times the number of drunk driving accidents than women, which is why 81 percent of intoxicated driving arrestees are men.
Drunk Driving by State
Drunk driving varies significantly by state. In 2018, the highest number of DUI related fatalities were reported in Texas (1,677), California (1,241), and Florida (958). Vermont has the fewest DUI related fatalities of 25 annually.
Drunk driving fatalities are usually highest in populous states. After adjusting for population, the states with the highest percentage of deaths by drunk driving were Montana (48 percent) and Texas (46 percent). Conversely, at 24 percent, Kansas had the lowest percentage.
Consequences Of Drunk Driving
Besides possibly causing injury or death, drunk driving can attract legal action. You can be charged with DUI or more serious crimes like manslaughter.
Impairment offenses are commonly categorized as misdemeanors or felonies. First-time offenders may be fined, jailed, or have their license suspended. Repeat offenders can face permanent license revocation or longer jail terms. The legal consequences become more severe when you cause crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities.
Drunk driving charges affect your car insurance costs even when you don’t cause injuries or damage. Insurance companies categorize people with DUI charges as high-risk drivers, imposing higher premiums to offset the increased risk.
“Being charged with a DUI can be life-altering, but understand that you do not have to fight alone. It is possible to build a defense against a DUI charge and working with a criminal defense lawyer is imperative as they can help work towards a favorable outcome,” says attorney J. Ryan Brown of J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC.
Preventing Drunk Driving
Tips to prevent driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Pick a non-drinking designated driver whenever you go out
- Do not drink alcohol if you are out alone
- Never feel pressured to drink based on your surroundings or peers
- Call a taxi to take you home when you have been drinking
- Never accept to be driven by someone who has been drinking
- Do not allow others to drive if they have been drinking
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