drunk driving statistics DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) cause approximately 31% of all traffic deaths in America. In many cases, drunk drivers are repeat offenders whose habitually destructive behavior leads to severe injury and death to innocent victims. Here we will review some of the most disturbing drunk driving statistics.

Did a drunk driver severely injure you, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.

Contact our drunk driving injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All information you share with our law offices remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Many drunk driving accidents are life-altering, causing considerable harm to innocent people who were severely injured or died by the impaired behavior of an intoxicated driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) DUI stats, drunk driving occurs when the motorist has a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.

Drunk Driving Accident Statistics and Facts in the United States

Statistically, more fatal crashes caused by drinking and driving occur in urban areas (56%) than in rural areas (44%). Most drunk driving fatalities occur on clear or partially cloudy days (89%) compared to rainy days (8%) or other weather conditions (3%).

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics reveal that 36,562 people died in traffic accidents in America in 2018, including 10,503 people involved in an alcohol-related drunk driving crash.

Other national drunk driving stats and facts include:

  • Alcohol-impaired driving claims one life every two minutes in the United States
  • NHTSA data reveals that approximately 28 people die every day in drunk driving traffic crashes in the United States, or one individual every 52 minutes
  • In 2017, 10,874 traffic deaths occurred in drunk driving crashes
  • Most fatal drunk driving accidents occur on interstates and freeways (13%) compared to principal arterial roads (32%), minor arterial roads (21%), collector roads (19%), and local roads (15%)
  • In 2019, the number of alcohol-related crashes dropped significantly to 10,142 traffic deaths, its lowest point since 1982, the first year that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) begin collecting impaired driving data
  • Local law enforcement arrested over 1 million drivers in 2016 for alcohol and narcotic impairment
  • More fatal drunk driving crashes occur during the warmer months from April until October than during the cooler and colder months of the year
  • In 2014, over 111 million people self-reported alcohol-impaired driving, not involved in drunk driving accidents
  • 2017 drunk driving statistics reveal that 1944 females were charged with alcohol-impaired driving versus 8022 males
  • In 2017, 195,421 females and 569,148 males were arrested for alcohol-related driving
  • Data shows that more than 300,000 people are driving drunk every day, but only approximately 2800 people are arrested daily on average
  • Alcohol-related accidents cost every person in the U.S. over $500 a year on average or $132 billion collectively
  • Approximately 75% of convicted drunk drivers still operate motor vehicles using a suspended license
  • In 2017, 9% of all motorists involved in driving fatalities during daylight hours were drunk compared to 32% of drivers involved in alcohol-related crashes at night
  • Data shows that drivers 21 to 24 years of age have the highest percentage of driving impaired by drugs and alcohol (27%), followed by 25 to 34-year-olds (26%), and 35 to 44-year-olds (23%)
  • Every three minutes on average, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides compassionate, supportive services to impaired driving victims
  • Data shows that drunk drivers, on average, had driven impaired at least 80 times before they were arrested
  • Traffic safety facts reveal that males are more likely to drive under the influence than women
  • Adults 18 to 25 years of age are more likely to operate a motor vehicle after using illicit drugs than all other age groups
  • In 2017, Texas ranked first in drunk driving fatalities at 13,138, followed by California (10,327), Florida (8476), Pennsylvania (4663), North Carolina (4102), South Carolina (3870), and Illinois (3866)
  • Driving while impaired on cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs account for approximately 18% of all drunk driving fatalities
  • About 9% of all drunk drivers who died in alcohol-related car crashes had a previous DWI conviction
  • About 7% of all motorists 35 years and under involved in drunk driving fatalities tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana
  • Approximately 50% of motorists killed in car accidents tested positive for alcohol or drugs
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that nearly 1.025 million drivers were arrested in 2019 for impairment
  • In 2017, 1837 individuals were killed in drunk driving accidents where the driver’s test results showed a low BAC (blood alcohol level) under the legal limit (0.08%)
  • Approximately 14% of all teenagers report that they binge drink, yet only 1% of parents believe that their child binge drinks
  • The 26 to 29-year-old age group has the highest rate of drunk driving in America at 20.7%
  • In 2018, nearly 10 million individuals, or approximately 4% of the population, self-reported that they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs
  • The body can only metabolize alcohol at a rate of approximately one standard drink every two hours, equaling 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer
  • The number of drunk driving fatalities dropped more than 50% since 1980 when MADD was founded
  • The FBI data reveals that over 50% of men are likely to drink and drive compared to 7.9% of women in the United States
  • According to drunk driving statistics, nearly 52% of all drunk driving collisions involve passenger vehicles, 19.5% involve pickup trucks, and 18.6% involve SUVs and crossovers
  • Many drunk drivers have previously attempted suicide or developed suicidal ideations (thinking about suicide) due to guilt, shame, or a psychiatric disorder
  • More than 31% of all spinal cord injuries occurred in alcohol-related crashes, where many cases resulted in partial or total paralysis

Motor Vehicle Crashes: Young Children and Students

Driving drunk with a child in the vehicle 14 years or younger is considered a Class 6 felony, punishable by one-year imprisonment as a first offense or up to 2.5 years with a prior felony conviction.

Impaired motorists with two or more felony convictions found drunk while driving with a young child could receive up to 4.5 years in prison and a $150,000 fine.

According to MADD, the laws in 47 states allow additional penalties against drunk drivers that exceed the standard jail time and fines due to child endangerment. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) identified that many drunk driving cases involved children who were not in a child safety seat, wearing a seatbelt, or other safety restraints.

Another motor vehicle drunk driving statistics involving children include:

  • According to the NHTSA, children who begin drinking at a young age are seven times more likely to be involved in alcohol-related crashes
  • Approximately 92% of all college students report that they consume alcoholic beverages regularly
  • Teenagers under the influence of alcohol cause the death of over 4300 people every year
  • One study revealed that 40% of all students in the 10th grade drink alcohol
  • Statistics reveal that in 2017, 50% of children killed in drunk driving crashes were in the vehicle operated by the intoxicated driver
  • In 2016, over 214 children 14 years old and younger died in DUI (drunk driving) crashes
  • Data shows that approximately 33% of all teenagers mistakenly believe they are better drivers and have more self-control when under the influence of marijuana
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) data reveals that 75% of all high school students will have consumed alcohol before their graduation
  • Surveys revealed that 25% of American minors report that they’ve had alcohol
  • Approximately 30.8% of all underage drinkers between 12 and 20 years of age have bought alcohol they consumed
  • Approximately 8.3% of underage drinkers have admitted they bought alcohol for self-use, and 22.3% gave others money to buy alcohol
  • Statistics reveal that over 37% of underage drinkers admit that unrelated others of drinking age gave them alcohol to drink
  • Over 21% of all underage drinkers say that an adult family member, including a parent or guardian, gave them alcohol to consume
  • There are more reported underage drinkers in America than ever before, including 33% of 8th graders who admit they’ve consumed alcohol
  • Race demographic drunk driving statistics reveal that white minors under the drinking age have the highest alcohol use percentage in America at 30.4%, compared to Asians with the lowest rate at 16.1%
  • Statistical numbers reveal that DUI is a leading cause of death among teenagers, where at least one drunk driving death occurs every 30 minutes on average
  • According to statistics, approximately 33% of all high school students admit to riding in cars at least once with someone who was driving alcohol-impaired
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reveals that over 26% of minors between 12 and 20 years old have consumed alcohol, and 17.4% admitted to binge drinking
  • Approximately 2000 college students 18 to 24 years of age die every year from an alcohol-related injury, including a motor vehicle accident
  • DUI statistics reveal that approximately 50% of teenagers and young adults under the drinking age who died in traffic fatalities were passengers and not motorcycling or driving
  • Statistically, male college students are more likely to display risky behaviors, including drinking and driving, than female students

DUI Accidents and Third-Party Liability

Providing alcohol to minors or already intoxicated visitors and patrons of legal age could be considered negligence and create liability issues. Dram shop laws in every state impose liability on establishments, including hotels, restaurants, clubs, and bars that improperly supply liquor to people of legal age.

By law, the business must exercise due care and avoid serving any individual who is apparently intoxicated. Dram shop laws identify legal liability when selling beverages to patrons of legal age or serving alcohol to minors.

Continually providing liquor to patrons or minors who will ultimately be driving is illegal and creates liability issues if the intoxicated person injures or kills another.

Potential third-party liability problems extend to the shop owner, bartender, party hosts, or others that allow guests to imbibe alcoholic beverages when they show apparent signs of intoxication.

Drunk Driving Fatalities by Vehicle Type

No matter what vehicle type is being driven, any driver with an extremely high blood alcohol level of 0.15% or higher has a significantly increased risk of being involved in fatal crashes or becoming severely injured. Even at the legal limit, drivers under the legal age (20 years and younger) are far more likely to be involved in drunk driving deaths than any other age group.

The NHTSA revealed 2017 statistics identifying drunk driving deaths by vehicle type to include:

  • Passenger Vehicles– There were 4297 drunk driving traffic fatalities out of the 20,895 road accidents involving passenger cars
  • Pickup Trucks– Of the 8709 pickup truck crashes in 2017, 1932 involved alcohol impairment
  • SUVs– 8833 fatal crashes involved SUVs, including 1721 car accidents caused by drunk driving
  • Vans– There were 2179 alcohol-impaired accident fatalities involving vans in 2017, including 284 where the driver was alcohol-impaired
  • Large Commercial Trucks– Of the 4600 commercial vehicle crashes in 2017, 116 accidents involved alcohol-related driving
  • Motorcycles– 5316 fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in 2017, including 1454 where alcohol-related impairment was a significant contributing factor

Approximately 43% of all drunk driving accidents in the United States involved passenger vehicles, and 27% of all drunk driving fatalities involved motorcycles in 2017.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Above the Legal Limit

Any police officer in the United States has the authority to arrest any driver who is “noticeably impaired, at any age, under their state’s zero-tolerance law even if their blood alcohol content is under the legal limits. State courts identify BAC (blood alcohol concentrated content) of 0.08% or higher as legally impaired.

Any individual found guilty of driving impaired might have their license suspended or revoked. The judge may order the convicted criminal to install an ignition interlock device, a small hand-held breathalyzer attached to the ignition that measures alcohol levels from the driver’s breath.

Statistics and data identify the common side effects of drinking nearly any amount of alcoholic beverages that include:

  • Slow reaction time– Consuming alcohol reduces the individual’s reaction time, increasing the length of time it takes to brake suddenly or make corrective maneuvers, leading to driving fatalities and injuries
  • Diminished coordination– Alcohol consumption negatively impacts drivers’ motor skills. Police officers often ask a questionably drunk driver to walk in a straight line or stand up straight to test their coordination
  • Concentration reduction– Drinking alcohol can significantly reduce the individual’s attention span making it challenging to react to a traffic sign, control lights, or other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians
  • Vision problems– Crash risk increases with excessive alcohol consumption can impair the driver’s vision, making it blurry with uncontrollable eye movements and creating problems when accurately judging the distance of objects and other vehicles
  • Impeded judgment– Excessive drinking can completely block or slow down the driver’s judgment, where they can easily overlook any potentially dangerous scenario

Preventing Drunk Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 32,000 lives have been saved since 1984 when Congress raised the minimum age for consuming alcohol from 18 to 21. However, the NHTSA statistics reveal that there are likely 2000 unpenalized impaired driving incidents for every single DUI/DWI arrest.

Local law enforcement training helps detect drunk driving to allow the officer to take steps to protect the public. Specific identifiers of drunk driving include:

  • Almost hitting another vehicle or object
  • Braking erratically
  • Drifting, swerving, weaving, or straddling the road’s centerline
  • Driving on the wrong side of the centerline
  • Driving very slowly
  • Driving with headlights off after dark
  • Making a wide turn
  • Slowly responding to traffic controls
  • Stopping without reason
  • Turning illegally or abruptly

Safe driving advocates advised making good decisions and learning good driving habits before drinking and driving to avoid catastrophic drunk driving accidents to get everyone back home safely. If alone at a bar or restaurant, drink non-alcoholic beverages like water and soft drinks.

Never get in a vehicle where the driver has been drinking and instead call a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft or take a taxi. Avoid feeling pressured by peers to consume alcohol and report any suspected drunk driver by calling 911.

Don’t Be a Statistic. Hire a Drunk Driving Injury Attorney Lawyer to Handle Your Compensation Case

Are you the victim of a drunk driving accident, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can protect your rights and help you obtain the financial compensation your family deserves.

We understand that most families do not have sufficient funds to hire an attorney. Because of that, we accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements, meaning no upfront fees are required until we have successfully resolved your case through a jury trial award or negotiated settlement.

Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. Let our legal team review the merits of your case and offer legal options on how to proceed.

Our law offices currently follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus epidemic) social distancing guidelines to protect our clients.


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