US Drunk Driver Statistics

US Drunk Driver Statistics

Every year, nearly 18,000 people die in the US in drink-driving related accidents. Despite this terrible cost, and the anger of the rest of society towards those who drive under the influence, thousands of Americans still start their vehicle up while impaired by drink or drugs every year.

In this article, we’ll be looking at drink-driving by the numbers, with some sobering statistics on the effect, and repercussions of drunk driving. 

What Exactly Is Driving Under the Influence

As we’ve mentioned in other articles, Nevada’s DUI laws prohibit all motorists from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more within two hours of driving or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Across the US, all states have laws in place that prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration for more than 0.08% and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set the legal limit for commercial drivers at 0.04%.

Some states also have laws in place that impose lower blood alcohol concentration limits on younger drivers. For instance, in Nevada, underage drivers, those younger than 21, can be cited for operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or more.

What Kind of Crime is Driving Under the Influence?

The severity of being caught driving under the influence depends on the state, although it is nearly ways a moving violation, which means points can be deducted from your driving license or it can be suspended entirely. 

The severity of the punishment for being caught driving under the influence also changes depending on if you have previous DUI convictions, with the penalties getting steadily harsher the more times you are convicted of the same offense.

Some states also legislate for an aggravated DUI, which is often a felony charge. An aggravated DUI differs from a misdemeanor DUI because of the following factors:

  • People were injured or killed or property was damaged
  • The driver was transporting a minor 
  • The driver’s BAC was much higher than the 0.08 limit
  • The driver was going at an excessive speed or driving recklessly
  • The driver had already been convinced of multiple DUIs

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence?

The penalties for driving under the influence vary from state to state, but you can expect to pay a  fine of up to $10,000 for your first offense, with that number increasing if you commit the same offense again.

You will also accrue points on your driving license and may have it suspended entirely. Some states also have a mandatory prison sentence associated with DUI convictions.

Repeated offenses or a conviction for an aggravated DUI can see you banned from driving indefinitely and sentenced to prison terms of up to 10 years.

Drunk Driving: The Sobering Statistics

Most people know that driving under the influence is dangerous, but given that there are still tens of thousands of drink-driving incidents each year, some people might not understand how dangerous. 

These facts, taken from the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration make the danger starkly clear.

  • Every 50 minutes, one person in the US dies in a drink-driving-related accent. That’s around 50 people a day (almost 18,000 a year).
  • Accidents due to driving under the influence cost about $44 billion a year collectively.
  • Just because you are under the limit it doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive. In 2018, 1,878 people were killed by drivers with a BAC between 0.01-0.07%. 
  • 27% of all motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents were legally intoxicated. 
  • Motorcycle riders are the largest segment of drunk drivers (28%).
  • In 70% of fatal crashes involving alcohol, at least one of the drivers had a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • The average cost of a DUI is between $2,000 and $27,000. And that’s before payouts for injuries or damages.
  • A DUI that is a first offense can still cost up to $10,000.
  • If you are under 21 years old, and convicted of a DUI, the combination of a zero-tolerance policy and insurance penalties can cost you up to $40,000 over the next 13 years. Fines and driver education courses can add another $6,000. 
  • The age group with the highest occurrence of driving under the influence is 21-24 years old. That age group also represents the largest number of drivers who die in fatal accidents.

Expert Training

The Northwest Driving School and Traffic School provides the Las Vegas community with live driving and traffic classes taught by seasoned instructors. All of our driving instructors have passed background checks, each automobile is DMV safety-approved and every member of the Northwest family is committed to providing excellent drivers ed and behind the wheel instruction.

At Northwest, you can expect to find outstanding classes, both on campus and behind the wheel, that are engaging, fact-filled, entertaining and geared toward success. We make no bones about it, we believe that Northwest provides the best driving lessons in Las Vegas, no matter your age or background. We are proud of the fact that 98% of our students pass their test on the first try. Call us at (702) 403-1592 to start your driving adventure with one of our expert instructors.

Written by:
Rich Heinrich
Master Instructor, Emeritus

Instructor and Office Administrator

Frankie works and karaoke's in Las Vegas but his out-of-doors-heart is still out East. Born in Boston, Frankie loves the snow and mountains. As an avid snowboarder, Frankie has never seen a snow day he didn't LOVE! A graduate from…Read More