Drunk Driving Facts
Drunk Driving Facts

46 Tragic Facts about Drunk Driving

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published June 13, 2017
  • It takes approximately six hours after drinking for the body to completely eliminate alcohol from its system with a BAC level of .08 g/dL.[10]
  • A driver with a BAC of .08 g/dL is 11 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a driver who has consumed no alcohol.[10]
  • Approximately 75% of fatal crashes occurring between midnight and 3am involve alcohol. Additionally, there are spikes in DUIs at 7:00 p.m. and 3:00pm, which are the end of happy hour and lunch time, respectively.[5]
  • Nearly 75% of drunk drivers involved in fatal collisions are not wearing their safety belts.[4]
  • Drugs other than alcohol (such as marijuana and cocaine) are involved in approximately 18% of fatal motor vehicle collisions and have most often been used in combination with alcohol.[2]
  • Random Drunk Driving Fact
    Men and women metabolize alcohol differently
  • Consuming just 3-4 beers for 170-pound male is enough to make him too drunk to drive. For a woman of average size, it may just take 1 to 3.[10]
  • While over 80% of American drivers have heard of the term BAC (blood alcohol content), only 27% of drivers can correctly identify the legal BAC limit for their state.[10]
  • The country with the highest rate of drunk driving deaths is South Africa. Nearly 6 out of every 10 fatalities (58 percent) on South Africa's roads are due to alcohol. By comparison, in the United States, 31 percent of all road deaths are linked to alcohol.[15]
  • Approximately, 50 to 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.[8]
  • Drunk driving deaths and damages cost about $52 billion per year in the United States.[7]
  • On average, two out of three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.[8]
  • Drunk driving is most frequently committed on the weekends.[13]
  • If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.

    - Dean Martin

  • In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol. This is more than the entire population of Texas.[8]
  • In the United States, drunk driving deaths have been cut in half since MADD was founded in 1980.[8]
  • An average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before their first arrest.[8]
  • In the United States each day, people drive drunk more than 300,000 times, but only about 3,200 are arrested.[8]
  • Nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States are due to drunk driving.[2]
  • Drunk driving costs an American adult $800 per year on average.[12]
  • Tragic Facts about Driving Drunk
    Men are more likely to drive drunk than women
  • Men are about twice as likely as women to drive under the influence of alcohol and to be involved in a fatal collision.[4]
  • Ignition interlocks are a type of breathalyzer for a person's car. Specifically, it prevents a car's engine from starting if a driver's blood alcohol concentration is too high. They have reduced arrest rates for impaired driving by about 70%.[12]
  • Of the 1,070 traffic deaths among children between 0 and14 years old in 2014, 209 of them or 19% involved a drunk driver. Over half the children who died were riding in the car with the drunk driver.[2]
  • Of all teenage deaths due to car accidents, alcohol is responsible for over half.[12]
  • December is "Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month."[10]
  • Per capita, Americans consume more alcoholic beverages than they do milk. There are also more miles of roadway and more registered cars in the United States than any other country in the world.[13]
  • According to the inventor of the automobile, Henry Ford, "booze had to go when modern industry and the motor car came in."[13]
  • In the U.S. alone, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes.[2]
  • Interesting Facts about Drunk Driving
    Every two minutes, someone is injured due to drunk driving

  • North Dakota ranks first in the USA in fatalities and in driving-under-the-influence arrests, with Montana coming in second. Their higher-than-average alcohol consumption combined with winter weather is likely to blame.[14]
  • The top 10 most dangerous states for drunk driving are the following 1) North Dakota, 2) Montana, 3) Idaho, 4) Wisconsin, 5) South Carolina, 6) South Dakota, 7) Pennsylvania, 8) New Mexico, 9) Rhode Island, and 10) Vermont.[14]
  • Utah ranks lowest in the U.S. for drunk-driving incidents. Other low ranking states include Indiana, Florida, Georgia, and Minnesota.[14]
  • Interesting MADD Fact
    Lightner's 13-year-old daughter Cari was hit by a car while walking to a church carnival with a friend
  • Candice Lightner created Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Irving, Texas in 1980 after a drunk driver killed her daughter. She later left the organization because she felt its focus had shifted from preventing drunk driving to preventing alcohol consumption in general.
  • Drunk driving most commonly occurs in rural counties than in major cities.[13]
  • White males are 50% more likely to drive drunk than other ethnic groups, including Hispanic, Asian, or African Americans within the past year.[13]
  • Teenagers who engage in other high-risk behaviors, such as binge drinking, smoking marijuana, and driving other peoples’ cars without permission, are at higher risk for DUI.[6]
  • White, Hispanic, and Asian youth who feel they have easy access to alcohol are at higher risk for a DUI. However, this was not a significant risk factor for African-American youth.  
  • Males, teens from higher-income families and teens who owned cars of all races/ethnicities have a higher DUI risk than females, less affluent youth, and those not owning cars.[6]
  • Princess Diana's driver had a high blood alcohol level at the time of the now infamous crash that killed both Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed. He reportedly was driving as fast 120 mph at the time.[1]
  • Every 15 minutes a teenager will die due to drunk driving.[17]
  • Motorcycle riders are nearly twice as likely to be driving while drunk than passenger car drivers.[3]
  • Interesting Fact about Driving Drunk
    Motorcyclists who ride drunk are also less likely to wear a helmet

  • In December 2012, a 20-year-old man ran over two young boys, ages 11 and 12, while the father watched helplessly. Later, the young boys' father was charged with shooting and killing the driver.[1]
  • In March 2013, a drunk driver rammed his BMW into the side of a cab in New York City, killing a man and his pregnant wife who were on their way to hospital to deliver their baby. The crash immediately killed the couple, and baby, who was delivered by C-Section, died hours later at the hospital.[1]
  • In June 2011, a drunk 20-year-old driver plowed his car into a SUV, which caused the SUV's fuel tank to burst into flames. A couple and their two children were trapped inside and were unable to escape the flames.[1]
  • In Russia, just refusing a field or sobriety test is enough to get a 15-day prison sentence.[9]
  • In France, a person who receives a DUI will get his or her car confiscated, their license suspended for three years, possibly one year in jail, and a $1,000 fine.[9]
  • The deadliest drunk-driving crash in the history of United States was the Carrollton bus crash on May 14, 1988. A drunk driver, Larry Wayne Mahoney, crashed head-on into a church activity bus carrying 66 people. While no one died from the initial collision, the bus burst into flames, killing 27 people and injuring 34.[16]
  • Sad Drunk Driving Fatality Fact
    Most of those who died were children

  • A taxi driver named George Smith was the first person ever arrested for drunk driving in 1897 after he slammed his cab into a building. Smith later pled guilty and was fined 25 shillings.[11]
  • While there are more DUI arrests on New Year's Eve than any other night of the year, the 4th of July is the most deadly day in terms of driving under the influence.[18]

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