Drunk driving is a growing problem in the United States and accounts for one-third of traffic-related accidents and deaths. Driving while intoxicated can lead to severe consequences for the driver, passengers, and other vehicles or pedestrians involved. It is important that young and older adults alike learn the facts and practice safe and responsible drinking when going out.
Drunk Driving Facts and Statistics
To help us to understand the severity of drunk driving issues in the United States, many websites talk about the statistics of traffic-related deaths from drunk driving. Here is a list of statistics:
- Those that are at the greatest risk of motorcycle accidents involving alcohol are 40 years and older.
- Alcohol also increases your risk of dying in a vehicle accident by 11 times.
- The age group with the highest fatalities from drunk driving is 21-24 year olds.
- The effects of alcohol are greater for teens than adults.
- Most alcohol-related driving accidents happen at night.
- Males are more likely to drive However, the percentage of females driving drunk increased from 12% in 2003 to 14% in 2012.
The CDC states that every day 28 people die from drunk driving. That is one person every 53 minutes. In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents.
For more information, go to:
Do Something: 11 facts about driving under the influence
Loyola University Health System: Drunk driving statistics
How Alcohol Consumption Impairs Driving
Whether you drink a little or a lot, alcohol can impair your ability to function. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states that alcohol is a depressant because it slows down the functions of the central nervous system. Normal brain function becomes delayed. Alcohol also affects a person's information-processing skills and hand-eye coordination. The greater amount of alcohol consumed before driving, the greater chances you have of being in an accident. Alcohol impairs all functions needed for safe driving – judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity, and reaction time.
To learn more, visit:
The University of Texas at San Antonio: How alcohol affects safe driving
Alcohol Rehab Guide: Dangers of drinking and driving
What is Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)?
In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more. A report at Stanford University says that blood alcohol level is the percentage of alcohol found in the blood stream. For example, a BAC of 0.10% means there is one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood.
There are several factors that can affect BAC:
- Number of drinks
- Amount of time in which drinks are consumed
- Body weight
- Food (to a lesser extent)
To read more about this, go to:
Aware Awake Alive: Blood alcohol content
Brad21: BAC charts
DUI vs. DWI: What's the Difference?
We may hear both DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) but what is the difference between them? DUI vs. DWI states that while both acronyms mean driving while influenced by alcohol or drugs, states can classify them as different crimes.
Some states regard a DUI as a lesser conviction than a DWI. With a plea bargain, some states may downgrade the offense from a DWI to a DUI. However, some states do not differentiate between the two and have a zero tolerance policy. Also, these two acronyms can be used to differentiate between someone driving while influenced by drugs and someone driving while influenced by alcohol.
For more legal information, visit:
DUI Driving Laws: DUI vs. DWI
Department of Motor Vehicles: DUI
What Happens After a DUI/DWI Conviction?
Every state handles DUI/DWI convictions differently, but there are some similar consequences to such a conviction.
The Drinking and Driving website states that fines can range from $300 to $10,000 depending on the state and jurisdiction. Not only are there fines but you will pay attorney fees and increased insurance rates for up to 3 years. You also risk your license being suspended or revoked. There are other standard fees, including penalty assessment, state restitution fund, alcohol abuse education, blood and breath tests, jail cite and release fee, driving/alcohol awareness school, license reissue fee, and towing. Depending on the state, these fees can range from $1,000 – $3,000. In fifteen states, a first offense requires the installation of an interlocking ignition device. Installation costs around $100, but you will have to pay around $60 a month for monitoring fees. If someone is killed or injured or property is damaged, the costs continue to mount.
To learn more, visit:
Minnesota Government: Impaired DWI consequences
New Jersey Government: DUI brochure
Common Myths About Drinking and Driving
There are many myths about drinking and how it is associated with driving. It is important to know the myths and find the truths to drinking alcohol and driving drunk. At PBS, they list several myths about alcohol and how it affects your ability to function. The myth that beer is less intoxicating than other alcoholic drinks is a myth. The myth that a cold shower, hot coffee, or fresh air can help sober a person up is a big myth that most of us believe. The truth is that only time will help someone to become sober.
Other facts and myths are listed at the Milwaukee Government website, such as the myth of a person driving better after drinking a few alcoholic drinks. Even a BAC of 0.02% is enough to decrease your ability to drive safely. Another myth is that a host is not responsible if someone causes an accident after drinking at their party. The host can be held responsible for any traffic-related accident that is caused by the driver who left the party.
For more information, go to:
College Drinking Prevention: Alcohol myths
Minnesota Safety Council: Drunk driving myths factsheet
Tips for Teens and Young Adults
For most teens and young adults, drinking is a new and exciting part of growing up. It is important for young adults to remember the consequences of drinking and how to be smart when consuming alcohol. Here are some tips from Los Angeles Lawyers:
- Organize a carpool or limo during prom or other big events.
- If you plan to drink, choose a responsible person to be a designated driver.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- If you are drinking and don't have a designated driver, always use a bus or taxi to get home, or offer to pay for a cab for others to get home safely.
- When you reach the legal age for drinking, do not buy drinks for under-aged persons.
- Tell a trusted friend to hide your keys if you plan to drink.
- Drink in moderation.
For more tips, visit:
Texas Department of Transportation: Tips for college students and young adults
Teens and Drug Abuse: Four tips to avoid drinking, drugs, and driving
Tips for Parents and Guardians
For parents and guardians, talking to your child about drinking and driving can be difficult. MADD has advice for parents and guardians who encounter an impaired adult and for children who find themselves forced to ride with one.
When dealing with an impaired adult:
- Calmly suggest public transportation or taking a taxi.
- Call 911 and give as many details as possible.
- Notify another parent or caregiver of the situation.
- Report any concerns to local child protective services.
Tips to teach children who may be forced to ride with an impaired adult:
- Sit in the back seat.
- Always use a seatbelt.
- Put all your belongings on the floor.
- Do not bother the driver and remain silent.
- Tell a trusted grown-up about the situation.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia also suggests encouraging your teen to call you when they are in a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Develop rules together and follow them. Come up with code words or phrases to signal that they need to be picked up.
To learn more, visit the National Foundation for Teen Safe Driving: Tips for parents.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has a great article: Stop impaired driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also discusses drinking and driving at Impaired driving.
The Governors Highway Safety Association highlights more information at Alcohol-impaired driving.
The Insurance Information Institute also talks about the topic at Drunk driving.
We Save Lives: Drunk Driving