Every year, an estimated 4 million Americans get behind the wheel after having a drink.
Whether they’ve had one cocktail or are driving home after a long night of partying, these intoxicated drivers account for thousands of accidents, many of them fatal.
While not every drunk driver gets caught, thousands do. DUI charges can leave you with hefty fines, a suspended license, trouble with your employer, and even jail time.
Keep reading to learn a few statistics about DUIs that every driver needs to know before they think about taking to the road after having a few drinks.
The Risk of Fatal Accidents Skyrockets
A driver with a blood alcohol level, or BAC, is at a much higher risk of being involved in a fatal accident than a driver who hasn’t been drinking.
Even when you bring into account weather, dangerous highways, or traffic, the risk of fatal accidents when alcohol is involved is more than 11 times the normal fatal accident rate for sober drivers.
When you take into account individuals who drink and drive several times a week, the risk that they will cause a fatal accident is staggering.
Nearly a Third of Road Deaths are Alcohol-Related
Every year in the United States, more than 37,000 people are killed in roadway accidents.
Of that number, 31 percent, or nearly a third of all deaths, are because of accidents involving alcohol.
Between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., the rate of fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers skyrockets to 75 percent.
While automobile accidents will still occur, if alcohol-related deaths were eliminated, thousands of lives would be saved each and every year.
Drunk Driving Deaths are Declining
More than 37,000 deaths a year might seem high. But prior to 1980, the number of yearly deaths was double that.
In 1980, MADD, or the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, helped to reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths.
Drunk Drivers Rarely Fasten Their Seatbelts
It’s no secret that drunk driving puts the lives of other drivers and passengers on the road at risk.
But when alcohol is involved, drivers aren’t on the lookout for their own safety either. Besides risking their lives simply by climbing behind the wheel, most drivers also neglect to fasten their seatbelts.
Nearly three-quarters of all drunk drivers fail to put on a seatbelt when they climb behind the wheel. More than 50 percent of those killed in automobile accidents were not restrained by a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
2 Out of Every 3 Americans Are Affected
In the U.S., 2 out of every 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving accident sometime during their life.
Some will be the drivers themselves or intoxicated passengers who choose to ride with a friend who is also drunk.
But many will be innocent bystanders in other vehicles who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone else made the poor decision to get behind the wheel after drinking.
Most Drivers Don’t Know What’s Legal
While everyone knows that driving drunk is never legal, you might be surprised to learn just how few people know the legal limit in their state.
More than 80 percent of Americans have heard of the BAC limit. Yet, just 27 percent of adults know what the BAC limit is in their state.
Knowing the BAC limit might not help you avoid a DUI after a long night of drinking. But understanding just how low the limit it might just make you rethink keeping your keys on your when you plan to go out.
You Can Get a DUI Hours After the Party Ends
Many drivers think that they can avoid a DUI by waiting a little while before hitting the road after their last drink. But the reality is that it takes more than an hour or two to sober up enough for it to be safe to get behind the wheel.
If you have a BAC of .08, it will take approximately 6 hours for your body to process the alcohol and get it out of your system.
Trying to drive before that is not only unsafe for your health, but also for your record. If you’re pulled over by police and tested, you’ll end up with a DUI.
Convicted Drunk Drivers Keep Hitting the Road
Getting convicted of a DUI will almost always lead to a suspended license. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop many individuals from driving again before their license is reinstated.
The exact number of repeat offenders is unclear because it is impossible to tell exactly how many people total drive drunk and are simply not caught.
But experts believe that between 50 and 75 percent of drivers charged with a DUI not only drive again with a suspended license but also drive while intoxicated, both while their license is suspended and after it is reinstated.
The consequences for a DUI become even more severe when it’s your second or third DUI charge. They include up to a year or even more in jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and lengthy license suspensions. Repeat offenders will have trouble ever getting their license again.
Click here to learn more about DUI and DWI and their consequences, as well as what you can do about them.
Men Receive the Majority of DUIs
While research shows that the average woman has a lower tolerance for alcohol than the average man, men receive an overwhelming number of DUI’s in the U.S. each year.
Men receive more than 80 percent of all DUI charges processed in the U.S. each year.
Of course, women do still receive thousands of DUI charges each year. Why exactly the half of the public that produces testosterone receives so many more DUI’s remains unclear.
What You Need to Know About DUIs
Now that you know more about just how dangerous DUIs can be and the consequences they can carry, its time to make sure that you never get charged with one.
If you’re planning to have a drink, its always a good idea to plan to catch a ride with a sober driver. Or better yet, check out these tips for turning your home into a sanctuary and enjoy your favorite beverage in the comfort of your own space.