Drunk Driving Statistics

New Year’s Eve is the most dangerous time to be driving. Drunk driving is a real problem in many areas of the country, and many people die every year because of it. On a day like New Year’s Eve, too many people do not plan ahead and they get in their vehicle to drive after a long night of celebrating the start of a new year. The result is that on that night, there are unusually more drunk drivers on the road, putting everyone at risk.

How Dangerous Is Drunk Driving?

We know drunk driving is a problem, but do we really know how big of a problem it is? These alcohol addiction and drunk driving statistics from various sources help put the entire problem into perspective. Too many people are killed, or their lives ruined because of this epidemic:

  • Accidents related to drunk driving take place every 45 minutes in the US. (1)
  • This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes – one every 50 minutes. (2)
  • One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. (3)
  • Beer is the drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking. (3)
  • In 2004, 30 percent of all fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-related, compared to 51 percent on weekends. For all crashes, the alcohol involvement rate was 5 percent during the week and 12 percent during the weekend. (3)
  • Drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year. (3)

We’ve known the dangers of drunk driving for decades, but the statistics are not getting any better. There are many people who do not learn from past offenses and continue to drink and drive:

  • The number of people who continue driving even after their licenses being suspended ranges between 50-75%. (1)
  • On an average, the blood alcohol content (BAC) in hardcore drunk drivers found to be 0.15. (1)
  • Around 3% of those involved in fatal accidents in 2008 were convicted for ‘driving while intoxicated’ (DWI) within the previous three years. (1)
  • An average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before first arrest. (2)

The Age of Drunk Drivers

Drivers of all ages are guilty of driving drunk, but a large portion of the drunk driving population is between 18 and 25, making it important for us to get the message out that drunk driving kills:

  • In the past 10 years, the deaths of youths (under 21 years) related to drunk driving have decreased by 33%. However, even after this substantial decline, around 4 people from this age group die everyday due to drunk driving. (1)
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one out of three of those is alcohol related. (2)
  • Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. (2)

How Many People Die From Drunk Driving?

In the United States, 32 people die every day in car vehicle crashes that involve a drunk driver, which means there is one death every 45 minutes. There were 11,654 people killed in these crashes in 2020, which is an increase of 14.3% compared to the number of deaths in 2019. These deaths account for 30% of all traffic-related deaths. 5

The number of deaths resulting from drunk driving was highest in Texas (1,495), followed by California (1,159), and Florida (871). The state with the lowest number of fatalities was the District of Columbia (7):6

State Deaths State Deaths
Alabama 236 Montana 96
Alaska 14 Nebraska 73
Arizona 293 Nevada 83
Arkansas 166 New Hampshire 37
California 1,159 New Jersey 151
Colorado 186 New Mexico 130
Connecticut 118 New York 286
Delaware 27 North Carolina 454
District of Columbia 7 North Dakota 35
Florida 871 Ohio 448
Georgia 402 Oklahoma 179
Hawaii 27 Oregon 191
Idaho 61 Pennsylvania 322
Illinois 379 Rhode Island 28
Indiana 249 South Carolina 315
Iowa 113 South Dakota 49
Kansas 96 Tennessee 326
Kentucky 199 Texas 1,495
Louisiana 233 Utah 58
Maine 64 Vermont 18
Maryland 183 Virginia 286
Massachusetts 98 Washington 199
Michigan 306 West Virginia 76
Minnesota 107 Wisconsin 210
Mississippi 162 Wyoming 44
Missouri 312 Puerto Rico 77

Teenage Drunk Driving Statistics

Teenage drivers are under a much higher risk of being involved in an accident than older drivers with the same blood alcohol content (BAC). This is the case even when their BAC is lower than the legal limit for adults.5

Among high school students who operated a vehicle, approximately 5% did so after consuming alcohol in the previous 30 days and about 17% rode with an individual who had been drinking in the previous 30 days, in 2019. Out of the total number of drunk drivers in 2020, 17% (790) were teenagers compared with 20% (852) in 2011.5, 6

When Is Drunk Driving a Felony?

Drunk driving is considered a crime and it is referred to as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In states that charge only one offense, these terms are interchangeable. However, in states that charge both offenses, DWI refers to drug impairment while DUI refers to alcohol impairment.7

A person operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can face different charges from misdemeanor to felony. The penalties can include revocation of the driving license, fines, and jail.8

DUI is considered a felony when the driver:9

  • Has previously had three or more DUI convictions.
  • Is responsible for serious injury to another person.
  • Operates a vehicle with an underage passenger and the child suffers serious injury or death.
  • Is responsible for another person’s death.

Drunk Driving Statistics by Year

According to the 2020 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatal crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver oscillated over the past decade, peaking in 2020:6

Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Fatalities 9,865 10,336 10,084 9,943 10,280 19,967 10,880 10,710 10,196 11,654

How Does a DUI Violation Affect Your Car Insurance Premiums?

A DUI violation can significantly affect your car insurance rates. While this depends on an insurance company, the average increase goes up to 74%. However, in some cases, the company will no longer be willing to offer you the coverage.10 

There are insurance companies that offer coverage to individuals with a driving record. However, you can expect the rates to be higher due to your status as a high-risk driver. The cost can also depend on the state.10

Decrease in Fatalities

The statistics are looking favorable. In a number of states, incidences of drunk driving have decreased in the past year. In fact, records show that 32 states have seen a decrease in drunk driving fatalities in 2011. Michigan is one of those states. “It’s not one particular thing,” Lynn Sutfin of the state police Office of Highway Safety Planning said. “It’s a combination of things. Some of it is due to a decrease in overall crash fatalities, some of it is due to people making smarter decisions; vehicles have better safety features and the roadways have improved.” (2)

Residents in Maryland are also happy to see a decrease in drunk driving. “There’s been basically a key change in attitude,” said Ragina Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA of the Mid-Atlantic. “I don’t think the public is willing to tolerate drunk driving anymore. They don’t see it as a social issue; they see it as a crime.” (3)

Who Is Most Likely to Drive Drunk?

There are specific groups of people that face a higher risk of engaging in drunk driving and experiencing related accidents and fatalities. These groups are:12

  • Men. Driving under the influence of alcohol is more frequent among men. There were 22% of male drunk drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes compared to 16% of female drunk drivers, in 2020. 
  • Young adult drivers. In 2020, there was 26% percent of individuals aged 21-24 and an equal percentage of those aged 25-34 among all drivers involved in fatal car crashes. 
  • Teenage drivers and passengers. Among teenage drivers, any amount of alcohol they take before operating a vehicle increases the risk of crash. The risk is higher than with adult drivers at equal BAC levels, even if the level is under the legal limit.
  • Motorcycle drivers. In 2020, the percentage of motorcycle drivers under the influence of alcohol was 27%, while there were 23% of passenger car drivers.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious disease that can be caused by numerous factors. It can be divided into stages, each characterized by respective social, physical, and mental characteristics. Individuals suffering from AUD can also be categorized according to different types. Therefore, there are different types of treatment programs as well. You can reach out to a dependable careline and choose the type of therapy that best fits you or your loved one.13, 14, 15, 16

Diagnosing AUD is important as it specifies the issue and allows the doctors to determine the effects it has had on you, properly adjust the treatment and create a plan for recovery. The treatment typically starts with a detox and may include medications that alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The cost of treatment depends on several factors such as the type of approach. 17,18,19, 20

Working to Save Lives

However, there is still work to be done, because people are still going out and driving after they’ve been drinking. One person dies every 40 minutes because of drunk driving; a total of 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes last year. (1)

Especially at this time of year, there are going to be people drinking and driving. “The number of drunken driving incidents always spikes around holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July,” Sutfin said. “There are more people on the road and people are celebrating.” (2)

Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local police and sheriff’s departments are cracking down this year on drunk drivers and working to educate more people. “Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and safety advocates and the incredible commitment of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are making real progress in reducing drunk driving deaths,” said Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland. “Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over.” (1) Checkpoints, DUI task forces, and stiffer penalties are all tools being used by your local law enforcement to keep people safe this year.