Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence is a criminal offense.

Driving under the influence | Table of Contents

What is Drunk Driving?

Driving under the influence (DUI) or drunk driving is defined as driving a motor vehicle, such as a car, bicycle, motorcycle, golf cart, boat, or jet-ski, while under the influence of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 10,265 individuals died in 2015 due to alcohol-related accidents. This accounts for 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the US in that specific year. It is further reported that around 1.5 million individuals get arrested each year for DUI-related offenses. Unfortunately, impaired driving continues to be a serious concern for the entire country.

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the standard measure used to determine the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream. If an individual has a BAC at or above the legal limit, he/she is considered legally impaired. However, it is worth noting that critical thinking and fine motor skills begin to diminish even during the legal limit. It is considered illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher in forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.


What is the legal limit for driving under the influence?

The legal limit in the US set for driving under the influence of alcohol is a BAC of 0.08%.

What are the legal measures taken to prevent drunk driving?

Some of the legal measures taken to prevent drunk driving are DWI courts, license suspensions or revocation, license plate confiscation, required alcohol education, vehicle impoundment, and increased penalties for drunk driving.

Why is drinking and driving a problem?

Since alcohol inhibits a person’s ability to respond quickly and concentrate, driving under the influence significantly increases the likelihood of a vehicular accident that could cause serious injury to the driver and those around them.

How can we prevent drunk driving accidents?

To avoid accidents caused by drunk driving, always designate a non-drinking driver when going out or take a taxi if you’re drunk, never get into a car with a drunk driver, and protect others by taking away the keys if a person attempts to drive while drunk.

Consequences of Drunk Driving  

Drunk driving can result in accidents that lead to disfigurement, paralysis, brain damage, or even death. Even if the individuals under the influence survive a crash but injure or kill those around them, they may have to bear the legal consequences as well as carry that burden for the rest of their lives.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that can result in fines, loss of license, or high insurance costs if charged.

Some of the other punishments for DUI-related offenses are:

  • Imprisonment
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Vehicle license plate confiscation
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) restrictions
  • Alcohol abuse evaluations
  • Mandatory alcohol abuse treatment programs
  • Monitored sobriety

Dangers of Drunk Driving

As alcohol impairs the decision-making and co-ordination skills of an individual, he/she will lack the ability to swiftly and decisively avoid an accident or perform routine maneuvers while driving. Thus, drunk drivers are highly likely to endanger themselves and those on the road.

Drunk driving is equally prevalent as it is fatal. As per the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), almost 4 million American adults were involved in an estimated 112 million DUI-related accidents in 2010 alone. Despite the huge figures of drunk driving, only a small percentage of drunk drivers are arrested. For instance, even though almost 300,000 drunk driving incidents occur in the US every day, arrests are only made in around 0.013 percent of these cases.

Drunk Driving Statistics

  • Individuals between the ages of 21 to 25 are the most likely to drink and drive.
  • Convicted drunk drivers make up almost one-third of repeat offenders.
  • Alcohol-related accidents cost around $100 billion for taxpayers.


How many people are killed by drunk drivers?

It has been estimated that almost 30 fatalities are caused by drunk driving in the US each day.

What percent of accidents are caused by drunk drivers?

According to a report published in 2016, 10,497 fatalities were recorded due to alcohol-impaired driving accidents. This accounts for 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the US.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you find yourself repeatedly behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, it could be a warning sign of alcohol addiction.  Alcohol addiction is best treated through a detoxification program followed by an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. As alcohol addiction is a chronic brain disorder that requires lifelong treatment, patients are highly advised to seek continued treatment through aftercare programs to avoid relapses.

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