Drunk Driving Facts

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  JANUARY 30 ,
| 4 Sources

Drunk driving is a serious problem in our country and has claimed many lives over the years. Despite all of the education campaigns and strict penalties for drunk driving infractions, people are still getting behind the wheel of a car after consuming large quantities of alcohol.

Drinking impairs your ability to drive safely by slowing down a person's reaction time to things happening on the road around them as well as their overall ability to maneuver a car or truck properly. It also impacts how alert an individual is with their vision, body senses such as touch, sound and smell; and motor skills including steering control, judgment and coordination.

We are going to look at some drunk driving facts and statistics on drunk driving. Everyone knows that drunk driving is a bad thing, but many people do not realize the full scope of the problem.

It’s important to understand that drunk driving is a wide-spread, far-reaching problem, and that it will likely touch all us at some point in our lives.

Here are Some Drunk Driving Facts to Consider

  • There were 16,005 fatalities in the U.S. alone from alcohol-related car crashes.
  • Someone is killed by a drunk driver every 39 minutes.
  • Someone is injured in an alcohol-related crash nearly every minute.
  • Three out of every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point during their lifetime.
  • A survey estimated that Americans took more than 159 million alcohol-impaired driving trips in the past year.
  • 1.46 million drivers were arrested for driving while intoxicated.
  • A study, 3% of Americans age 18-20 (below the legal age for purchasing and drinking alcohol) admitted to driving while under the influence.
  • Eight teens die every day in alcohol-related crashes.
  • Sixty percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol related.
  • Alcohol-related crashes cost the U.S. an average of $114 billion annually.

Do these statistics on drunk driving surprise you? They surprised us. Do they scare you? They should.

Who is Most at Risk?

Those who drive drunk are typically males, ages 21-34. The largest demographic that drives under the influence is 18- to 34-year-old men.

The more times a person has been caught driving while intoxicated, the greater the risk for future poor decision-making related to drinking and driving.The statistics show that the more times a person is arrested for drunk driving, the greater their chances of being arrested again for the same crime.

In many cases where a death occurs as a result of someone's decision to get behind the wheel after drinking heavily, it is often no surprise to family members who have previously tried to stop them but felt helpless or ignored by the person they love most.

In addition, many people are completely unaware of their loved one's inability to control themselves after drinking too much alcohol.

There are many sad stories where families were forced to deal with the loss of a family member who was killed by someone who made a very bad decision that cost a life.

Sadly, these travesties are all too common in our country and we need to do more as a nation and as families to curb this problem!

What Are the Consequences of Drunk Driving?

Drunk driving consequences can include everything from getting injured or killed in an accident caused by drunk drivers as well as being convicted of drunk driving charges resulting in jail time and other penalties including fines, loss of driver's license, higher car insurance rates (if applicable), and more.

Drunk Driving Laws

There are currently 48 states in the U.S. that have adopted laws against drunk driving, with each state having their own set of rules and penalties for breaking those laws. For example, most states will suspend a person's driver license after they've been convicted of a certain number of offenses related to drinking and driving.

In addition, some states will revoke a driver license if an individual receives three convictions on their record within five or ten years; other states impose an additional penalty when one is convicted of DUI resulting in the death of another person (which can result in double the jail time).

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes at insurance companies as well as throughout local courts to keep track of who has been convicted or involved in a motor vehicle accident.


What Can Be Done About the Problem?

Everyone wants the drunk driving facts to improve. What can be done about these drunk driving facts, though?

There are many options available for improving statistics on drunk driving, some of which are already in place. Since 1980, alcohol-related fatalities have decreased by about 40%. Clearly what is being done is working. Yet, as you can see from the drunk driving facts listed above, there is much more to be done.

As we have previously mentioned,many states have laws mandating jail time even for first offenses of driving while intoxicated. They may also require alcohol education programs or treatment programs. They usually suspend the driver’s license of offenders.

They may also impound the cars of offenders. Laws are also cracking down on underage drinkers.

While there are things law enforcement can do to improve drunk driving facts,there are things we can do as individuals, as well.

Here are some simple measures you can take to help prevent drunk driving.

  • Never drive while under the influence. Even one drink can impair your ability to drive safely. It takes about an hour for your body to eliminate the alcohol from one drink, so wait at least an hour for each drink you’ve had before you even consider getting behind the wheel.
  • If you go out to drink with friends, select a designated driver who will abstain from alcohol. Or take a turn at being the designated driver yourself.
  • If friends are too drunk to drive, take their car keys. Have you heard the saying, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk?” Instead, help your friend find a safe ride home. Or, invite them to stay with you for the night.
  • Report drunk drivers. If you are on the road and see a driver that appears drunk, call the police and report it. Signs that a driver may be intoxicated include weaving, straddling the center line, tailgating, making wide turns, driving too slowly, driving with windows down in cold weather, and forgetting to turn on headlights.
  • Keep these drunk driving facts in mind, and share them with others. Make sure to share these prevention tips, as well.

There are several helpful resources available to people struggling with alcoholism. Contact a treatment provider today.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More than drunk driving facts on our consequences of drunk driving page

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