Other stories

The Who, Where, and When of Drunk Driving

When talking about drunk driving, most articles discuss the same two things: the consequences and the solutions. While those are both significant to understand, it’s also important to look at the statistical side of things.

To be considered a “drunk” driver, a person must reach a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more. Some driving-based careers – such as taxi services or truck drivers – usually require a much lower level. For the sake of keeping things fair, all statistics discussed in this article involve a driver that reached the “normal” legal limit of 0.08 BAC.

All of this information comes from various health organizations, such as the NHTSA, WHO, or MADD. By taking an objective look at their research, we can get a general idea of the who, where, and when behind drunk driving.

The Who

When it comes to who is most likely to be in a drunk driving accident, the most significant factor is age. Those between 25-34 years old are the most likely to get into a car accident involving alcohol impairment, while those over 75 are the least likely.

Another factor is sex: men make up 80.4 percent of drunk drivers. Because men make up a majority of drunk drivers, it also means that they have probably downed more drinks. Where a 180-lb man needs four average-sized drinks to reach a BAC of 0.08, a 120-lb woman only needs two to achieve the same blood alcohol level.

Interestingly enough, the vehicle someone drives also can be a factor. Passenger cars make up 43 percent of all vehicles involved in car crashes where a driver is liquor impaired. This is much higher than those who drive pickup trucks, SUVs, vans, and motorcycles.

Then there is the sad matter of fact that even if you don’t drive drunk, you may be at a higher risk of dying in a drunk driving accident. These at-risk groups tend to be young people and motorcyclists. As no surprise, the other most at-risk group are drivers with previous DUI or DWI charges.

The Where

Drunkenness by state is a very thought-provoking statistic, with California having the most drunk drivers. In 2017, the state of California alone had 1,120 fatalities resulting from alcohol-impaired driving. The states with the lowest number of drunk drivers are Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Though they do not have the most nor least number of drunk drivers, Virginia has some interesting statistics as well. In 2018, 34 percent of deaths resulting from car crashes were alcohol related. This is in spite of the fact that Virginia has some of the strictest anti-drunk driving laws in the country. Richmond DUI Lawyers are working in conjunction with lawmakers and law enforcement on solutions for the state.

The When

In this case, “when” is not referring to the time of day but rather the year the crash occurred. Here is a short timeline covering the history of drunk driver data:

  • 1982: Record-keeping began for drunk driving data.
  • 2010: For this year alone, drunk driving cost the American people $44 billion in death and damages.
  • 2016: 10,497 people died in car crashes involving a drunk driver. This number accounted for 28 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States. This same year, over one million people were arrested for driving under the influence of either narcotics or liquor.
  • 2018: 10,511 people died from drunk driving crashes, with 230 of those deaths being children under the age of 14. Yet, this year saw a 65 percent drop compared to the data collected in 1982. For those under 21 years old, drunk driving fatalities decreased 71 percent since 1991.

Over the last 30 years, drunk driving fatalities decreased by one-third. However, there has been a slight uptick thanks to the novel coronavirus. While total miles driven fell over the course of the pandemic, deaths involving drunk drivers saw a five percent increase.

Interestingly enough, the number of impaired drivers has not changed drastically, but the type of drugs used has. About 16 percent of car crashes involved a driver who was taking a controlled substance other than liquor. This could be because of the increased legalization of cannabis in the United States.

Only time will tell where these trends go in the future. Hopefully, future data can tell us more about who is most likely to get into drunk driving accidents and where and when these accidents occur.

If you have any questions, please ask below!