Drunk Driving Facts: The Costs Of Drinking And Driving

Drunk Driving Facts

These drunk driving facts should be scary enough to stop anyone from ever drinking and driving. But unfortunately, people will still continue to drink and drive even as DUI laws have become harsher than ever. Whether you’re a student looking for drunk driving information, a concerned friend, parent, or family member, or are simply curious about the dangers of drunk driving, this information should be helpful.

Who are drunk drivers?

  • An average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before first arrest.
  • Motorcycle riders are nearly twice as likely to be driving while drunk than passenger car drivers.
  • The highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who have BAC levels of .08 or higher is for drivers ages 21 to 24.
  • Drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher in fatal crashes are eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired than are drivers with no alcohol.
  • In 2008, 7,378 (57%) of the drivers involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking had a BAC of .15 or greater.

What damage does drunk driving cause?

  • From 2010 to 2019, there were more than ten thousand people dying every year because of accidents related to drunk-driving. This contributes to almost 30% of all traffic accident-related fatalities each year. See table below to see the trend.

Drunk Driving Facts - The Costs of Drinking and Driving

Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Annual Report

  • Despite the fact that it’s illegal to drive while drunk in every state in the US, one person is being killed every 52 minutes in the country due to a drunk-driving crash.
  • In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
  • One in 3 people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.
  • This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk driving crashes – one every 50 minutes.
  • In 2008, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 32 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.
  • Drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year.

Statistics Related to Drunk Driving by State

Curious to know how many fatalities are from your state of residence? Well, as of 2019, based on the data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, the top three states that contribute the most to the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities are Texas, California, and Florida.

State Drivers* Killed People Killed
California 1,841 3,606
Florida 1,792 3,183
Texas 2,256 3,615
National 22,613 36,096

*Total includes motorcycle riders.

According to NHTSA data from FARS 2019 ARF, there were 2,256 drunk drivers who died in Texas, 1,841 in California, and 1792 in Florida that year. Meanwhile, 22,613 drunk drivers died in 2019 in the US.

If we are to include not just the drivers, there were 3,615 people who died in Texas, 3,606 in California, and 3,183 in Florida that year because of drunk-driving accidents, contributing to almost 30% of the national number of deaths that reached up to 36,096.

Meanwhile, here are the states with the lowest amount of annual alcohol-related fatalities:

State Drivers* Killed People Killed
District of Columbia 10 23
Rhode Island 36 57
Vermont 37 47
Alaska 45 67

*Total includes motorcycle riders.

Still think it’s not that much? Check the number of drivers killed in crashes by state and their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in 2019 here, and check the number of people killed by state (including the highest driver Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in the Crash in 2019 here.

When does drunk driving usually occur?

  • Drinking and driving are more prevalent during late overnight hours (1 am to 3 am). At that time, approximately 4.8% of all drivers are over the legal alcohol limit. That’s compared to just 0.2% during the 9:30 am to 11:30 am morning hours.
  • Every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash.
  • The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night than during the day – 36% versus 9%.

Latest Trends

  • The latest drunk driving facts show the number of drunk drivers in the United States has decreased an estimated 71% since 1970.
  • The federal blood alcohol level regulation is currently set to .08 BAC but many states are considering a .05 BAC, especially for repeat offenders.

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