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Drunk Driving: Risks, Statistics And More

Drunk driving has long been a problem in the United States, causing fatalities of all degrees. Also referred to as driving under the influence (DUI), drunk driving accidents often occur when those on a vehicle lower their inhibitions. Note that drunk driving crashes are not just limited to cars — these can occur in motorcycles, trucks, bikes, golf carts, boats, and other motorized vehicles.

Legally speaking, a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level should not be 0.08% or higher, as this can impair your vision, coordination, judgment, reaction times, and more. But actually, even the smallest amount of alcohol can cause car crashes from drunk driving. Drunk driving puts both drivers and innocent bystanders or other drivers on the road at risk.

Facts About Drunk Driving

To put things into perspective, here is a rundown of some of the hard facts about drunk driving.

  • Car crash fatalities in the US: Drunk drivers are involved in about a third of car crash fatalities in the country.
  • Number of drivers in deadly car crashes: In 2019, around 19% of the 50,930 drivers involved in deadly car crashes were alcohol impaired. 
  • Deaths from drunk driving accidents: One person every 52 minutes, or 28 people a day die due to drunk driving accidents.
  • Age group at risk for drunk driving: Those aged 21 to 24 are the group most at risk for alcohol-related crashes, accounting for 27% of them. 
  • Annual cost of crashes involving alcohol: The annual cost of crashes related to alcohol amounts to upwards of $44 billion.

Source: Forbes, NHTSA, CDC

Risks Of Drunk Driving

Drunk driving can be extremely traumatic, both for the driver and any casualties met along the road. Living with the consequences of drunk driving can also take a toll on you emotionally — not to mention the physical aftermath of the accident. Alcohol has certain sedative effects that could inhibit a driver’s ability to drive carefully on the road.

Risks of driving while under the influence include:

  • Poor vision
  • Inability to control the vehicle’s speed
  • Increased relaxation
  • Impaired eye movement
  • Hampered reasoning skills
  • Inhibited ability to make sound decisions
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Poor coordination

Penalties For Drunk Driving

Drivers can face serious consequences for driving while intoxicated. Drunk driving offenses may lead to the following penalties and punishments, but keep in mind that they may also differ per state and depend on the severity of the accident:

  • License suspension
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • DUI school
  • Community service
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Installation of universal ignition interlock devices (IIDs)

Avoiding Drunk Driving

Avoiding drunk driving is possible when you have a game plan ahead of you, especially when you intend to go out and drink. Here are some ways you can avoid drunk driving:

  • Look out for your companions to make sure that they do not have too much to drink. If they have had too much, keep their keys, call a car for them or take them home yourself.
  • Assign a designated driver who will stay sober the whole night. You can compensate them by paying for gas or giving them a token. 
  • If you know you are going to be drinking, ride with a designated driver or book a car to take you home.
  • Do not feel pressured to drink alcohol when you go out. 
  • If you intend to host a gathering, make sure to offer a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about drunk driving, to give you a better idea on the topic:

How many people die from drunk driving a year?

Around 10,000 people die from drunk driving-related deaths every year.

When did drunk driving become illegal?

Drunk driving first became illegal in 1910, starting in the state of New York. Following New York, California then passed a law that distinctly stated that driving while intoxicated with alcohol is illegal. 

Does drunk driving add to your criminal record?

In most cases, drunk driving or driving under the influence is counted as a criminal offense. It will add to your criminal record, most likely as a felony or a misdemeanor.

The heartbreaking thing about drunk driving is that it can be avoided — for as long as you practice prudence and responsibility at all times. If you or your loved one is experiencing difficulty with substance abuse, you can read more about the various treatment options available at Radical Rehab today.

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