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12 Drunk Driving Statistics and Facts in the US – 2022 Update

driver drinking beer

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Are today’s drivers are more careless than ever before? Do you believe that freedom and technology make our roads far more dangerous?

Driving while intoxicated (commonly referred to as DWI) is a serious crime throughout the United States. It can lead to injury, and in many cases, death. It also leads to a longer jail time and other hefty fines.

Since the early days, drunk driving has been a critical part of American culture. But many laws and social movements are working to combat this dangerous form of excessive alcohol consumption that can harm nearly all aspects of society.

The good news is that the number of drunk driving fatalities in the United States is declining based on statistics over the past two decades. The continued education on the dangers of drinking and driving, strict laws, and penalties are key factors why drunk driving death rates are down in the US.

Here are 12 drunk driving statistics and facts that you should know, including:

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The 12 Biggest Drunk Driving Statistics and Facts in the US

  1. About 1,000 children are killed by drunk drivers every year in the US.
  2. Roughly 2,000 college students aged between 18 and 24 die every year from motor vehicle accidents and unintentional alcohol-related injuries.
  3. Twenty-nine people die in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers every day in the US.
  4. In the US, the volume of drunk driving fatalities has reduced by 44% since 1985.
  5. In 2019, 1,323 drivers under 21 died in alcohol-related car crashes.
  6. Drunk drivers with Blood Alcohol Contents (BAC) of 0.10 are seven times more likely to be in a fatal accident than sober drivers.
  7. 45% of female drivers contact a friend or significant other to be driven home after drinking.
  8. In high school, one in ten teenagers drinks and drives.
  9. Teenage drunk drivers account for 17% of fatal alcohol-related road accidents.
  10. Teenage drunk drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident at night than adult drivers aged 30 to 59 years.
  11. Drunk driving costs more than $44 billion in damages every year in the US.
  12. In the US, drunk driving fatalities are more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas.

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Number of Deaths Related to Drunk Driving

1. About 1000 children are killed by drunk drivers every year in the US.

(NIAAA)

Treating drinking and driving like a normal activity that kids learn from their parents is a big problem. Many people don’t think twice about letting a kid ride with a friend who’s been drinking, but that can be deadly for any child.

Drunk drivers cause accidents that claim the lives of over 1000 children annually. Tough laws are being put into place to curb this behavior on the roadways. Many cities have passed ordinances that make it illegal to drive while under the influence.

car accident at night
Image Credit: pimgmoon, Pixabay

2. Roughly 2,000 college students aged between 18 and 24 die every year from motor vehicle accidents and unintentional alcohol-related injuries.

(COLLEGE DRINKING PREVENTION)

It’s recommended that college students should not drink and drive since they are more prone to accidents. Instead, they should use other means of transportation because the risks are too high.

It’s because alcohol is a factor in many traffic accidents. Many college students do not know how much alcohol can affect their driving skills. It’s crucial to discuss this with them.


3. Twenty-nine people die in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers every day in the US.

(MADD)

Although alcohol-impaired driving has declined in the United States, it continues to be a massive problem. Drivers and passengers are still dying due to alcohol-related car crashes daily.

That translates to tens of thousands of people dying each year in motor vehicle crashes and hundreds of thousands more injured. Twenty-nine deaths related to drunk driving accidents is a huge number. Each drunk driving fatality affects families, friends, and an entire community.


4. In the US, the volume of drunk driving fatalities has reduced by 44% since 1985.

(NHTSA)

The volume of drunk driving fatalities has been decreasing for over two decades. But there is still plenty that can be done to reduce the number of accidents.

Driving while under the influence is not just dangerous; it’s also illegal in many other ways. The number of fatalities caused by drunk driving had been rising for some time. But recently, the number of fatalities has started to reduce, given the strict measures put in place by the government.

car accident on a highway
Image Credit: akreyche, Pixabay

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What Group Is More Prone To Drunk Driving?

5. In 2019, 1,323 drivers under 21 died in alcohol-related car crashes.

(IIHS)

Young drivers under 21 years of age have a higher risk of driving while drunk and getting into an accident than older drivers. Recent statistics show that over 1,300 young drivers die in car crashes related to alcohol consumption. Countless more people are affected by the death of those young people.


6. Drunk drivers with Blood Alcohol Contents (BAC) of 0.10 are seven times more likely to be in a fatal accident than sober drivers.

(DMV)

The legal limit of alcohol levels permissible for driving a car in the United States is 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If your BAC is equal to or more than this, legally, you are considered drunk. A drunk driver can be expected to exhibit some impairment in reaction time, motor skills, and judgment when driving.

Tens of thousands of people die from drunk driving each year. That’s why it’s crucial to know the facts about this epidemic and how you can prevent those statistics from becoming your own.


7. 45% of female drivers contact a friend or significant other to be driven home after drinking.

(NHTSA)

New research by NHTSA shows that nearly half of all female drivers aged between 18 and 29 contact a friend or significant other to be driven home after taking alcohol.

It goes further to state that young male adults are more prone to drunk driving accidents compared to their female counterparts. This is understandable given that females take more precautions and rarely drive themselves if they are drunk.

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Teenagers Drinking and Driving Statistics in the US

8. In high school, one in ten teenagers drinks and drives.

(TEEN DRIVER RESOURCE)

It’s illegal for minors to drink and drive. But unfortunately, many teens do so. According to statistics from Teen Driver Resource, many high school students who drink alcohol reported driving within an hour of consuming alcohol.

It’s a serious issue that leads to injuries or even death if not addressed. Teens have a much higher rate of crash involvement than any other group. It can be attributed to their inexperience.

Although the proportion of traffic accidents caused by drunk driving has declined in the US, drunk driving remains the leading cause of death among teenagers.

wreck car on tow truck
Image Credit: gdbaker, Pixabay

9. Teenage drunk drivers account for 17% of fatal alcohol-related road accidents.

(TALKITOUTNC)

It’s a sobering thought. Young people aged between 15 and 24 are involved in almost one-fifth of all fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents. In some areas, the numbers are even higher.

Teen drunk drivers may be putting themselves at risk and hurting their friends and family, who often have to live with the consequences of an accident.


10.  Teenage drunk drivers aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident at night than adult drivers aged 30 to 59 years.

(III)

Teenagers are more likely to drink and drive at night than during the day. The late-night hours are when they are most likely to have unsupervised access to alcohol instead of during the day when they may be in school or work environments where drinking is prohibited.

This explains the phenomenon where they are more involved in night accidents than daytime crashes.

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Drunk Driving Damages

11. Drunk driving costs more than $44 billion in damages every year in the US.

(CDC)

Drunk driving is expensive economically and in terms of lives lost. The costs of drunk driving have been rising over the years. It’s expected to rise if people continue to drink and drive.

Drinking driving costs include monetary costs such as fines, legal fees, and insurance rates. We also have intangible costs, such as loss of life, injury, and accidents that affect family members for years to come.

It doesn’t matter if you are commuting to your workplace. The risk of an accident when you’re drunk is high. Even when you are just driving around your hometown, there’s a likelihood of an accident if the driver is drunk. Simply, avoid drunk driving.

silver car accident
Image Credit: blende12, Pixabay

12. In the US, drunk driving fatalities are more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas.

(IIHS)

There are several reasons why urban areas have higher rates of drunk driving accidents than rural areas, such as the traffic environment. Primarily, urban areas have higher traffic volumes, reduced roadway capacity per mile, and more vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita.

It is not a mystery as to why this is so. More people live in urban areas where centers provide easy access to bars, nightclubs, and other places where alcohol is served.

Additionally, there are more cars on the road in urban areas, and when one of these drivers is intoxicated, the danger they pose to others is magnified.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving in the US

Can you get automobile insurance after you’re convicted of drunk driving?

Many states will not allow convicted drunk drivers to carry automobile insurance for several years. However, some insurers will allow you to get car insurance after being convicted of drunk driving.

Others will have your driver’s license suspended or revoked if convicted. Those insurers will base their decision on the number of drunk driving accidents you may have caused. Getting back your automobile insurance after you’ve been convicted of a DUI charge can be a daunting process.

Note that depending on your state, if you’re caught while driving with an uninsured car after your insurance has been revoked, you may face more charges.

(HARVATIN LAW)

person driving at night
Image Credit: victrixia, Pixabay

Why is drunk driving so common in the US?

Everyone likes to party and have a good time, but sometimes people take it too far. One of the reasons drunk driving is common in the US today is because they have an abundance of alcohol compared to many other countries.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a major issue in the US. Drunk drivers cause the deadliest accidents. Thousands of people in the country lose their lives every year due to drunk driving incidents.

(EMPATHY DEFENSE)

What is the punishment for drunk driving in the US?

If you are arrested for drunk driving, the court can order you to pay a hefty fine. The amount of money you have to pay differs depending on several factors.

These include the state you live in, whether this was your first offense, and how long ago it was. Also, it’ll depend on whether you caused any personal injury or death. These are some considerations that courts look at when determining the fine for drunk driving offenses.

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Since every state has unique laws in this regard, you need to check what exactly constitutes drunk driving in your jurisdiction. Also, check what punishment you’re subject to for the offense.

(HARVATIN LAW)

What does the term ‘blood alcohol level’ mean?

The term ‘blood alcohol level’ is commonly used to refer to the amount of alcohol present in a person’s body. It does not refer to the quantity of alcohol in a single serving of beer, wine, or hard liquor.

Tolerance levels for individuals will vary. People who weigh 200 pounds can drink twice as much as someone who weighs 100 pounds and still have a blood alcohol level below .08%, the legal limit for intoxication, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This law does not apply to minors, under 21 years old or commercial drivers.

(NHTSA)

What would happen if you decline to take a breathalyzer test due to drunk driving?

If you get stopped for drunk driving, the police officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. You can refuse to take it. But it can have some serious consequences if convicted of drunk driving.

If you are charged with refusing the breathalyzer test, there are still ways that you can fight the charges and possibly even avoid jail time. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in your area today for more information on what would happen if you decline to take a breathalyzer test.

(LAWINFO)

Which state in the US is drunk driving more prevalent?

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Wyoming has the highest drunk driving rates in the United States.

Many people have lost family members, friends, and colleagues to drunk drivers. It’s a big concern that many organizations are working to prevent.

(CDC)

How much beer does it take for a driver to be unfit to drive?

The amount of alcohol it takes to get someone drunk varies depending on gender and body weight, among other factors. But, most people agree that the legal limit of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content is best described as “a lot.”

According to statistics from Gorelick, it takes one beer for every six pounds of your body weight. But if you’re a woman, it will take three beers for every ten pounds of your body weight.

Of course, everyone’s body is different, and this is just an estimate. But it’s good information to keep in mind the next time you are tempted to drive after drinking.

(GORELICK)

man drinking alcohol
Image Credit: geralt, Pixabay

How Drunk Driving Affects the Society in the US

There are many effects that drunk driving can have on society. A lot of accidents occur due leading to loss of life and property.

It is not just the drunk driver but also others on the road who may be affected by such behavior.

Treating this problem requires a comprehensive approach. It’s not just the responsibility of people who drink or their family members to prevent drunk driving. It’s also the responsibility of law enforcement, health care professionals, educators, community leaders, and the media.

They must work together to create awareness among the general public about the seriousness of drunk driving and its consequences. The financial loss suffered by victims of drunk drivers is so much to bear, leave alone losing a loved one in an accident due to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Related Read: 16 Truck Accident Statistics And Facts

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Conclusion

Accidents happen. You can’t control what other people do behind the wheel. But you can choose not to drink and drive.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the facts regarding drunk driving should be shared out there. It’s still a major problem in the US. And, while it can be hard to read statistics and facts such as these, they go a long way towards educating everyone on the dangers of drunk driving.

Drunk driving kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. It recurs from year to year, regardless of which faction controls Congress or the White House. Awareness campaigns have done much to raise public knowledge about the problem.

But drunk driving remains a widespread and dangerous issue. Unless this number is reduced, more traffic fatality facts like these will surface each year.

You might also be interested in: 10 Drunk Driving vs. High Driving Statistics and Facts


Featured Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

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