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Who drives drunk the most?

Drunk Driving Statistics

ValuePenguin analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and estimated that drunk driving is responsible for about 1 in 3 traffic fatalities. While this is the ratio for the United States, the frequency of alcohol-impaired driving accidents can vary depending on the driver’s age, their location and the time of year.

The breakdowns on this page evaluate crashes where a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was equal to or greater than 0.08 grams per deciliter, resulting in alcohol-impaired driving. This is in alignment with the NHTSA’s guidelines and the legal limit in nearly every state.

  • How many people die from drunk driving?
  • Drunk driving deaths by state
  • Drunk driving deaths by age group
  • Most dangerous types of roads for drunk driving
  • Which holidays have the most drunk-driving accidents?
  • How drunk driving affects car insurance

How many people die from drunk driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the annual number of fatal traffic accidents dropped by 14% between 2004 and 2018. In the same period, the number of fatalities fell from about 43,000 to 36,000 per year. Of these, over 30% were the product of drunk driving.

Even though the share of traffic fatalities attributable to drunk driving was consistent, from 2004 to 2018, the number of people killed by drunk driving dropped by about 18%. From 2004 to 2011, each year saw fewer drunk driving deaths than the year before. While deaths from drunk driving were about 7% higher in 2018 than they were in 2011, deaths were still down overall.

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Drunk-driving deaths relative to total fatal crashes

Is drunk driving a felony?

Receiving one conviction for drunk driving is ordinarily a misdemeanor, not a felony. The penalty for a misdemeanor doesn’t involve jail time but could include a fine or community service — along with substantial hikes to your car insurance premiums . However, a driver arrested for drunk driving could face felony charges if they injure or kill another person. Additionally, being pulled over with a minor in the car while driving drunk without a license or with a suspended license, among other situations depending on the state, could result in a felony charge for drunk driving.

Drunk driving deaths by state

On average, 30% of roadway fatalities were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers from 2004 to 2018. In 20 states, the percentage was higher. Relative to all traffic deaths, North Dakota had the largest percentage of fatalities resulting from drunk driving of any state. In North Dakota, 40% of traffic deaths were owed to alcohol-impaired drivers.

At the same time, there were relatively few total traffic fatalities in North Dakota from 2004 to 2018. As a result, the number of deaths from alcohol-impaired driving was the sixth-lowest of all states. Instead, Texas had the most total traffic deaths from drunk driving: more than 20,000 drunk driving fatalities. In Texas, drunk driving was responsible for 39% of all traffic deaths from 2004 to 2018.

Washington, D.C., had the lowest number of people killed by drunk drivers during this time period. In the nation’s capital, alcohol-impaired driving caused 33% of all traffic deaths, though only 423 people were killed in total. In Utah, drunk driving was responsible for only 19% of the traffic deaths in the state. Utah was the only state where the ratio fell below 20%.

Impaired Driving

Impaired Driving

Drunk drivers cause more than 17,000 deaths annually. This equates to 310 funerals each week or one death every 30 minutes.

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In New York State slightly more than 30% of the fatal crashes are alcohol related.

There is also an injury every 2 minutes associate with drunk driving. A driver suspected of impaired driving may be asked to submit to a blood, breath, urine or saliva test to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs in the body.

About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

In New York State, a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle may be considered legally impaired if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds 0.05% A driver is legally intoxicated if their BAC is 0.08% or greater.

In a recent study, NHTSA found that 16% of weekend nighttime drivers (roughly one in six) tested positive for illicit drugs.

Drivers on New York’s highways are deemed to have given their consent to a test of their blood, breath, urine or saliva for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol and or other drugs. A refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in automatic license suspension, even if found not guilty of impaired driving. This entire set of guidelines is called the Implied Consent Law.

Underage Drinking

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for 15 — 20 year olds.
  • Drivers under age 21 represent about 5 percent of licensed drivers, but are involved in 14 percent of fatal crashes.
  • Data published in a «Monitoring the Future» study indicated one in ten high school seniors reported driving after smoking marijuana within the two weeks prior to the survey.
  • Despite a decline in youth drinking, evidence suggests that underage impaired driving is increasing.
  • More than 5,000 drivers under age 21 were arrested for DWI last year; over 8 percent of all such arrests.
  • As a parent, you can not give alcohol to your teen’s friends under the age of 21 under any circumstances, even in your own home.
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If nothing is done, more young lives will be lost. Help prevent these tragedies by reporting illegal purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors by calling 1-866-UNDER 21.

Your confidential tip will be investigated. You just might save someone’s life.

Cost of Drunk Driving

Drivers under the age of 21 comprise just 5% of licensed drivers in New York State, but are involved in 14% of the alcohol related crashes.

New York has instituted new laws and programs in an effort to prevent these tragedies.

  • It is unlawful for persons under the age of 21 to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages (except in religious services)
  • It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC of 0.02% or more, the equivalent of a single alcoholic beverage in most people.

If you are found in violation of driving with a prohibited BAC can be fined, required to do community service, and lose their driving privileges for 1 year or until age 21, whichever is longer.

Estimated Costs Associated with Being Arrested for Drunk Driving
Towing / Car Storage$100.00
DWI Fine$500.00
Attorney’s Fees$1,500.00
Court Fees$200.00
Loss of Two Days of Work$250.00
Alcohol Evaluation$90.00
Crime Victims Fund$10.00
Victim Impact Panel$20.00
Probation Fee$30.00
Drinking Driver Program$175.00
Conditional License$75.00
License Reinstatement Fee$50.00
Increased Insurance Rates for 3 Years$5,000.00

Traffic Safety Committee

For more than three decades, New York has been a leader in reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries resulting from alcohol and drug impaired driving. At the core of the state’s well-established comprehensive system for addressing impaired driving is a set of strict laws which are supported by effective enforcement, prosecution, adjudication, and offender programs.

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The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) plays the central role in the promotion and coordination of multiple components of New York’s Impaired Driving Program. The funds and other resources GTSC invests to reduce impaired driving are complemented by a number of other federal, state, local and private sector activities.

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