How Big is the Drunk Driving Problem?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime throughout all of the United States. There was one point in recent history where each state had its own blood alcohol content (BAC) level that constituted drunk driving, but every state has now moved over to the .08 percent standard. This has undoubtedly helped to reduce the number of drunk drivers and DUI related accidents, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a problem. Statistics gathered by several sources show that DUIs are still a major problem throughout America.

  • Legal Statistics
    Most people who drive under the influence of alcohol only worry about the possible legal ramifications that they could face if they are captured. There are obviously several other detrimental outcomes that could result from the activity. Looking at the law enforcement statistics relating to drunk drivers, however, will give a person an idea of how widespread the problem is without depending strictly upon mortality rates.One of the most staggering statistics related to drunken driving is the number of people that are captured while doing it. In 2010, for instance, there were over 1.41 million people arrested for driving over the legal alcohol limit. The scary part is the fact that these are only the drunk drivers who were pulled over and arrested. The Centers for Disease Control found that people who get pulled over for their first DUI have on average driven drunk at least eighty times before their arrest.

    The simple fact that most drunk drivers have broken DUI laws eighty times before being captured shows that there is no telling how many people are currently out on the road drunk. Another statistic that is in reality a little disheartening is how many drunk drivers actually continue their irresponsible behavior. A study from the National Department of Transportation found that one out of three people who are arrested for DUIs every year have been charged with the crime before. Repeat offenders are arguably the most dangerous drivers on the road.

    There are also several other statistics taken by law enforcement divisions that show interesting facts about convicted drunk drivers both before and after their arrests. These records can show who is more likely to drink and drive and can also provide information on offenders who reenter the justice system after their DUI conviction.

    • Gender Differences
      Males are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol than females. A little over fifteen percent of males drove under the influence; while nearly eight percent of women did. This statistic may soon change though. The number of women arrested for DUIs over the past decade has increased thirty-six percent.
    • Age Differences
      Age was also found to have an effect on drinking and driving. The highest rates of DUI when considering age belong to people between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five. This rate progressively goes down as people get older.
    • After Conviction
      Information from the Transportation Research Board shows that between fifty and seventy-five percent of people convicted of DUI will continue driving even after having their license suspended.
  • Mortality Information
    It is an unfortunate truth that driving under the influence doesn’t just lead to legal consequences; it can cause serious injury and even death. Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that there are twenty-eight deaths every single day related to motor vehicle accidents caused by drinking and driving. The real scope of the DUI problem becomes quite obvious when twenty-eight people die every day due simply to a person’s urge to drive after they’ve been drinking.The NHTSA was also able to calculate the percentage of alcohol related fatalities for different types of vehicles. The administration took all fatal crashes into account related to certain vehicles. They then found the percentage of fatal crashes that were caused by alcohol. The data were stunning to say the least.

    • Twenty-eight percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes were alcohol related.
    • Twenty-three percent of fatal passenger car accidents involved alcohol.
    • Light trucks came in just a little lower with twenty-two percent of fatal crashes being alcohol related.
    • Semi truck drivers had the lowest percentage of alcohol related fatalities. Only two percent of deaths in big truck accidents were caused by drinking and driving.

    Age also played a huge part in fatal crashes involving alcohol. Thirty-four percent of all fatal accidents where drivers were between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-four were alcohol related. For twenty-five to thirty-four year olds the number dropped to thirty percent. Just like previous age data, this number continues to drop as the population in question ages. Another interesting statistic is the fact that thirty-one percent of all fatal crashes on the weekends are related to alcohol; while only sixteen percent of fatal crashes during the week are.

    The saddest numbers to consider are the ones that affect the children of the nation. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teenagers in America, and one third of these accidents are related to drinking and driving. Teenagers, however, aren’t the youngest affected by this epidemic. Two hundred and eleven children were killed in drunken driving accidents in 2010. Of these children, over sixty percent were actually in the car with the drunk driver.
    <[i>Other Statistics
    There are other tolls that drinking and driving take on the nation as well. The NHTSA once again provided data which suggest that drinking and driving causes the United States $132 billion every year. This is staggering when a person considers the fact that $132 billion is higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Vietnam, Hungary and Cuba.

    Data also suggests that one in every three people will be involved in a drunken driving accident at some point in their lives. This number is probably so high due to the fact that if everyone in America who admitted to drinking and driving were put into one state, it would be the fifth most populous state in the nation. The accidents and deaths related to drinking and driving are not that surprising when a person realizes just how big the problem is. The number of drunken driving related deaths has dropped by half since 1980, but America still has a long way to go.

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