Facts And Laws About Drinking And Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 alone, 9,967 people lost their lives in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. When it comes to drunk driving, it affects more than just the driver.

  • In 2012, 21 to 24 year olds had the highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with a BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher – 32 percent.
  • For example, more people have heart attacks on Christmas Day than on any other day of the year, according to the American Heart Association.
  • Although a smaller percentage of 16– to 20–year–old drivers drive after drinking compared with older drivers, when they do so, 16– to 20–year–olds consume more alcohol before driving.
  • Lay out the possible consequences of being caught driving drunk, including serving time in jail, losing his or her driver’s license, being denied acceptance to college or worst of all, being involved in a fatal car crash.
  • The BACs of drivers in fatal crashes were also related to driving behaviors that contributed to the fatal crash .
  • However, the change might also be due to which day of the week these specific holidays fell on each year, since there are typically fewer fatal crashes in the middle of the week than on weekends.

Once an individual passes .08% BAC it becomes clear why it’s illegal to drive. From .10% to .19% BAC, the drinker loses significant coordination abilities. Balance, which people use to accurately sense what direction they are driving and whether or not they’re in their lane is also significantly impaired. Approaching .2% BAC is when many people might use the term “sloppy drunk”. Elevated blood alcohol levels, no matter how “sober” you feel, can have a real impact on your ability to perform tasks that require concentration, such as driving. Shockingly, 53.5% of survey respondents feel capable of driving after drinking as opposed to 46.5% who don’t. Another shocking insight we found was that 10% of people who said they are fine to drink and drive had received DUIs in the past.

The highest blood alcohol level ever recorded was a 1.480%, nearly 4 times the lethal level and it was found on a man who had just crashed his car. It’s clear that levels of intoxication past .08% BAC provide extreme risks for operating motor vehicles. The more severe the impairment, the higher the risk and punishment if someone is arrested. This section examines trends in drinking and driving over approximately the past 20 years. Trends are reported based both on surveys of drivers stopped at random while driving and on records of alcohol–related fatal crashes. The FARS data also provide information on the characteristics of drivers involved in alcohol–related fatal crashes—their age, gender, previous convictions and license suspensions, BAC, and safety belt use. The percentage of traffic deaths that are alcohol related also varies depending on the role of the person killed in the crash (i.e., whether the person killed was the driver, passenger, or pedestrian) and by the type of vehicle involved.

Holiday Drinking & Driving

Census Bureau, 83 percent of the U.S. population was White, 13 percent was African American, 1 percent was Native American, 3 percent was AAPI, and 10 percent was Hispanic. Under the laws of the United States, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle when the ability to do so is materially impaired by the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications. For impaired driving charges involving the consumption of alcohol, the blood alcohol level at which impairment is presumed is 0.08, although it is possible to be convicted of impaired driving with a lower blood alcohol level.

Despite overall marked reductions in alcohol–related traffic deaths since the early 1980s, there has been little reduction since the mid–1990s, and alcohol–related traffic deaths have increased slightly in the past 3 years. Proportional reductions in alcohol–related traffic deaths were smaller among people with prior drinking and driving offenses than among those without previously recorded offenses. In 2002, 42 percent of intoxicated drivers (i.e., those with BACs of 0.08 percent or higher) in fatal crashes were speeding, as were 43 percent of drivers with BACs of 0.15 percent or higher. In contrast, 15 percent of zero–BAC drivers in fatal crashes were speeding . If you are caught while drinking and driving and cited for the act, do not be surprised if a DUI conviction directly affects your insurance premium. This is because insurance premiums are based, in part, upon your risk as a driver.

For example, Houston is one of the deadliest cities for drivers on Memorial Day weekend and New Year’s. Los Angeles is the most dangerous city over the weekends of Labor Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. A primary cause of the increase is that people often drink more than usual over the holidays, plus there are typically more people on the road around these celebrations. In Media Studies from Penn State University, but instead of shifting into an academic career in social science, he has decided to put his skills to work in the pursuit of helping those struggling with addiction. Arizona caries the harshest penalties, where a first time DUI offense can result in up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Many other states employ similar approaches to DUIs in order to dissuade people from making this dangerous decision. Males are more likely to drive whilst drunk than females with just 12% of females admitting to driving blackout drunk.

This goes to show how serious drinking and driving is and how much it affects the world daily. In 2010, 211 children were killed in drinking and driving related accidents. This is very dangerous and that the deadliness of this cause is destroying families forever. The more alcohol concentration in your body, the higher the risk of a fatal crash. If you are driving at a blood alcohol concentration of .15% or more, your chances of a fatal crash increases by 200%. Even when people know about the risk, they still go on thinking that they will never end up hurting or killing someone.


Clearly, people who meet established alcohol dependence criteria are disproportionately involved in alcohol–related motor vehicle crashes, accounting for approximately two–thirds of motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol (Hingson et al. 2002). In 2002, 84 percent of the drivers who had been drinking and were involved in fatal crashes had BACs at or above 0.08 percent . Most States have established a BAC of 0.08 percent as the legal level of intoxication. Tough enforcement of drunk-driving laws has been a major factor in reducing drunk-driving deaths since the 1980s.

Find a sober ride by taking a cab, rideshare, or public transportation. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are used for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Amphetamines stimulate the brain by increasing the level of neurotransmitters, dopamine, and norepinephrine, in the brain.While it may boost your ego, Adderall can increase your heart rate and puts drivers at risk for having a seizure or stroke. Drug-impaired driving is more complex than alcohol-impaired driving for many reasons6. The effects of alcohol at this concentration are relaxation and a reduction in the driver’s ability to see properly as well as to judge accurately. It is important to note how different concentrations of alcohol in the blood affect drivers. These changes may be very subtle and barely noticable to the person who has had only one drink, but in an emergency situation while behind the wheel of a vehicle, they could cause the driver to react as they would without having had a drink.

Even within the legal limit, a person’s mental and physical states begin to change from alcohol’s effects. As a person’s blood alcohol concentrations climb, the detriment and danger of being behind the wheel while drinking skyrockets.

In some states, an intoxicated person may be convicted of a DUI in a parked car if the individual is sitting behind the wheel of the car. In some jurisdictions, the occupant of a vehicle might be charged with impaired driving even if sleeping in the back seat based on proof of risk that the occupant would put the vehicle in motion while intoxicated. Some states allow for a charge of attempted DUI if an officer can reasonably infer that the defendant intended to drive a vehicle while impaired. In some states, insurance companies can also punish drunk drivers who are injured in an accident they caused by denying payment for the driver’s injuries. Insurance companies also routinely raise the auto insurance rates of people convicted of a DUI or refuse to insure them in the future. The Nolo survey found the average auto insurance increase is about $800 a year. The other holidays that top the list in terms of safety might surprise you.

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Plan your trip so you have plenty of time to drive to your destination and won’t feel pressured to speed. Most sentences carry some form of a mandatory minimum in the form of either a fine, interlock , education, or time in jail. And the more you drink, the harder it is to judgehow intoxicated you are. The third most popular reason, with 4% of respondents admitting to this, is that they didn’t have any other way to get home. Regardless of where you are, you should always have a plan in place to get home if you’ve been drinking because it’s never okay to get behind the wheel. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

facts and laws about drinking and driving

Mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment of offenders convicted for drinking and driving, which is the law in 32 States (Wells–Parker et al. 1995). Greater enforcement of 21 as the minimum legal drinking age, as mandated by the law in all States (Wagenaar et al. 2000; Holder et al. 2000). The NHTSA survey described above also asked participants about their perceived chance of being stopped and arrested for drinking and driving. More than half the respondents thought it would be at least somewhat likely that they would be stopped by the police if they drove after having too much to drink. However, 38 percent of respondents believed it would be at least somewhat likely that if they drove after drinking too much they would be stopped by the police, arrested, and convicted. Only 2 percent believed it would be almost certain that all three of these things would happen. In addition, a recent review of 112 studies provided strong evidence that impairment in driving skills begins with any departure from zero BAC .

In 2011 alone, close to one million high school teens admitted to drinking and driving. Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do.

Reach out to a dedicated treatment provider and learn how you can create the life you want. Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America, and also one of the most common addictions. If you can safely do so, protect others by taking their keys if they attempt to drive after consuming alcohol. The employers of drivers with a CDL could also be liable for the actions of the driver. If you have been drinking, get a ride home from a friend who has not been drinking or call a taxi. Tracking – Alcohol can decrease the ability to judge the car’s position on the road, or the location of other vehicles, center line, or road signs. All that we ask is that you include a link back to this page so readers can learn more about the study.

In many other cases, they collide with other motorists, often seriously injuring or killing them. According to the “Journal of Political Economy,” 53.2 percent of fatal car accidents involved one drunk driver and one sober driver. The name of the offense varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from legal to colloquial terminology.

While it isn’t necessary to hire a lawyer, legal representation could help a person during the sentencing process. Once a person is about to enter treatment, or just after they arrive, a more in-depth evaluation, or assessment occurs. This clinical assessment determines how severe a person’s drinking problem is, what treatments could be used to treat it and how long treatment should be. As a person’s muscle coordination declines, their balance, hearing, reaction time, speech and vision are compromised.

facts and laws about drinking and driving

Overall, 21 percent of the driving–age public reported driving a vehicle within 2 hours of consuming alcoholic beverages in the previous year, and about 10 percent of these trips were driven at a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. In general, people who drive after drinking believe they can consume up to three drinks in a 2–hour period and still drive safely. Those who do not drink and drive think their limit is about one–third less, or two drinks . According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , approximately 10,265 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2015; deaths like these were 29% of all total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.

Eighteen States have primary enforcement laws that allow police to stop vehicles and give citations when a motor vehicle occupant is not belted. On average, at least 11 percent more motorists wear safety belts in States with primary safety belt laws (i.e., 80 percent compared with 69 percent in other States) . One study in California found that when the State changed from a secondary to a primary law, the largest percentage increases in safety belt use, nearly 40 percent, were among motorists who were driving after drinking . This indicates primary enforcement safety belt laws can be particularly effective in reducing motor vehicle occupant deaths involving drinking drivers. The FARS does not routinely record the race and ethnicity of people who die in motor vehicle crashes. However, from 1990 to 1994 a special initiative linked nearly 200,000 records from FARS with death certificate information on race and ethnicity from the National Bureau of Health Statistics . Information was available only for people who died in crashes, not drivers who survived fatal crashes.

Drinking and driving is sometimes called driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated , and involves operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of at least 0.08 percent. However, even a small amount of alcohol can lead to harmful situations. Some drivers may not even show warning signs of being under the influence, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous. It’s important to remember that any form of drinking and driving is illegal and can come with strict punishment.