46 Distressing Drunk Driving Statistics

We’ve all heard the campaigns and slogans that have been offered to prevent drunk driving. Bring along a designated driver. Think before you drink. Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Yet there are still people who get behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink or they are passengers in a vehicle when they know the driver is drunk. This creates a tremendous safety hazard on our roadways.

Thankfully, there are measures that can be taken that can help to prevent injuries and deaths that occur because of drunk driving. One of those measures is to be aware of drunk driving statistics such as these.

Distressing Drunk Driving Statistics

1. In 2014, almost 10,000 people were killed in automobile accidents that were directly attributed to drunk driving. This accounted for 31% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. (CDC)

2. Every day, 28 people in the US die in motor vehicle crashes that involve a driver who has been drinking. This creates an average of 1 death every 53 minutes on US roads that could be prevented. (CDC)

3. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is more than $44 billion annually in the United States alone. (CDC)

4. 1 in 5 traffic deaths that involved children in the 0-14 age demographic were due to a driver that was impaired by alcohol. Over half of the children killed were passengers in the vehicle that was being driven by the driver who was alcohol-impaired. (CDC)

5. In 2014, over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for being behind the wheel while impaired, either from alcohol or narcotics. (CDC)

6. There are 121 million self-reported episodes of drunk driving that occur in the US annually, which means law enforcement officials are only catching about 1% of drivers who are drunk driving at any given time. (CDC)

7. Up to 75% of drunk drivers who are convicted after an arrest will continue to get behind the wheel, even though they have a suspended driver’s license. (MADD)

8. On average, one person is injured on US roads because of a drunk driving crash every two minutes. (NHTSA)

9. 67% of people in the United States will be involved in at least one drunk driving accident in their lifetime. (NHTSA)

10. The rate of drunk driving is highest in the 26-29 age demographic, with 20.7% of drivers admitting on a 2013 survey that they had gotten behind the wheel after drinking. (MADD)

11. Since 1980, the number of drunk driving fatalities has been cut in half in the United States. (NHTSA)

12. The average drunk driver has driven at least 80 times while intoxicated before they are arrested for the first time. (FBI)

13. Drunk driving costs the average adult in the US over $500 per year. (MADD)

14. Drunk driving in fatal crashes is 4 times higher at night than during the day. 34% of fatal crashes due to drunk driving occur at night, compared to 9% of crashes that occur during the day. (NHTSA)

15. 29% of drivers that are involved in a fatal crash during the weekend were intoxicated, compared to 16% of drivers involved in fatal crashes during a weekday. (NHTSA)

16. The average person metabolizes alcohol at a rate of about 1 drink in 60 minutes. Taking a cold shower, drinking coffee, or other strategies to “sober up” are ineffective. (Michigan State University)

17. In 2014, three times as many men were arrested for drunk driving as women. More than 400,000 men were arrested for driving while intoxicated that year. (FBI)

18. About 1 in every 3 drivers who are either arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders. (NHTSA)

19. The percentage of alcohol-related fatalities decreased from 50.6% in 1990 to 42% in 2009. (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

20. All 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have a maximum 0.08 alcohol concentration limit for determining if someone is drunk driving. (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

21. In 2010, there were 154 recreational boating fatalities that were directly attributed to drunk driving while on a boat. (US Coast Guard)

22. About 4 million US adults reported at least one episode of drunk driving in 2010. This creates about 479 episodes for every 1,000 adults in the country. (CDC)

23. 85% of drunk driving episodes that are self-reported are by those who also report binge drinking before driving. (CDC)

24. 4.5% of the adult population who reported binge drinking a minimum of 4 times per month account for 55% of the total drunk driving episodes that are self-reported. (CDC)

25. 1 out of every 3 traffic fatalities that occurs because of drunk driving occurs to a passenger, an occupant in the other vehicle, or a pedestrian. (AAA)

26. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or higher in fatal crashes in 2012 were 7 times more likely to have a prior conviction for drunk driving than drivers with no alcohol in their system. (FBI)

27. Men are nearly twice as likely to drive drunk (15.1%) than women are (7.9%). (FBI)

28. An estimated 18.7 million Americans are currently abusing alcohol. (CATG)

29. If everyone who admitted to their drunk driving habits were put together into their own state, it would be the fifth largest state in the US in terms of population. (NHTSA)

30. 14% of the drivers who are involved in a fatal crash while drunk driving has a driver’s license that is either suspended or revoked. (NHTSA)

31. When an electronic home alcohol monitoring system is installed, it reduces the risk of failure by a drunk driving offender by 31%. (USDOJ)

32. The cost of imprisonment for drunk driving is six times higher than the cost of electronic alcohol monitoring systems. (USDOJ)

33. 39% of work-related traffic crashes are caused by drunk driving every year. (OSHA)

34. One of the top social concerns for US teens is drinking and driving, with 35% of teens saying that it is an issue they care strongly about. Only their education (40%) and child abuse (40%) rank higher than drunk driving. (TRU Study)

35. In 2010, 48% of men who were arrested for drunk driving were Hispanic. Caucasian/White men account for 35.5% of arrests. (FBI)

36. In 2014, the rates of drunk driving reached a 13-year low in the United States. (Washington Post)

37. In 2002, 15.3% of Americans said they drove drunk, 5% said they drove under the influence of one or more illicit drugs, and 3.3% said they drove under the influence of both simultaneously. By 2014, those numbers had fallen to 11.1%, 4.1% and 2.4% respectively. (Washington Post)

38. American drivers have also been logging more miles than in years past, reaching 3.148 trillion miles in 2015. This means alcohol-impaired driving fatalities fell from .33 deaths per 1 million miles in 2014 to .32 deaths per 1 million miles in 2015, which was the lowest ratio seen in at least the last 10 years. (Washington Post)

39. More than 1 in 5 men ages 21 to 25 drove drunk in 2014, nearly 1 in 7 drove under the influence of other drugs, and roughly 1 in 12 drove while simultaneously drunk and drugged. (Washington Post)

40. Since 2002, the drunken driving rate fell by fewer than three percentage points among drivers age 26 and older. But the rate among drivers ages 21 to 25 dropped by more than 10 percentage points. And the prevalence among the youngest drivers, ages 16 to 20, fell by more than half. (Washington Post)

41. In 2012, 65% of drivers who were involved in a fatal accident and were alcohol-impaired at a blood alcohol concentration level that was greater than 0.08. (NHTSA)

42. On average, 8 teens will die every day on US roads because of an accident that is caused by drunk driving. (NHTSA)

43. Nearly 50% of fatalities that occur on motorcycles and involve alcohol involve riders who are 40 years of age or older. (NCADD)

44. The risk of death due to a motor vehicle accident is 11 times higher when a driver is under the influence of alcohol. (Foundation for a Drug Free World)

45. Although men are more likely than women to be arrested for drunk driving, the number of fatal crashes involving women who were alcohol-impaired increased from 12% to 14% from 2003-2012. (NHTSA)

46. Compared to 1996 figures, US law enforcement officers are arrested 300,000 fewer people for drunk driving annually today than they did 20+ years ago. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Drunk driving is a problem that has been decreasing in recent decades, but every fatality or injury that occurs due to intoxication is preventable. One life lost is one too many. Do not get behind the wheel if you’ve had something to drink. Bring along a designated driver. Take the keys away from someone who shouldn’t get behind the wheel and call them a taxi or an Uber.

Together we can keep making these drunk driving statistics improve.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.