Drunk driving is one of the most concerning issues worldwide, which causes 25-30% of all fatal road accidents. It’s as dangerous as distracted driving or driving under drug influence.
Drunk driving statistics show that lately, DUI cases have decreased both in the United States and in the European Union as a general trend. However, the fall in current alcohol-related fatalities and casualties doesn’t mean the problem is solved.
We’ve prepared a list of the most striking statistics in the US and the EU to raise your awareness.
DUI Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- Alcohol-impaired driving causes 33% of fatal crashes in the US
- Every 51 minutes, a person loses their life in a DUI accident
- More than 1.5% of Americans admit driving after drinking too much
- Almost 9,600 drivers with a .08+ BAC lose their life in a car crash
- Nearly 25.5 American drunk drivers with a .08+ BAC are repeated offenders
- In 2020, 31% of US Gen Zers were likely to drive drunk
- In the EU, 25% of road kills are alcohol-related
- Countries with a .00 blood alcohol concentration limit report fewer DUI fatalities
Drunk Driving Facts
Most drink-driving facts concerning the US point to a worrying number of incidents, many of which involve kids and teens. However, these facts also suggest steps to be taken toward change.
1. Alcohol-impaired driving causes one in three fatal crashes in the US.
While it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08+ in the United States, recent stats show that 10,511 people lose their lives due to drunk-driving in otherwise preventable crashes. This means that one person dies every 51 minutes!
On average, around 10,000 Americans die every year in drunk-driving crashes.
2. Drink-drive accidents kill one in four children (<14 years old).
The data of US drunk-driving deaths statistics show that many children are victims of fatal crashes. Usually, the person driving the kids causes the fatalities.
3. Every 51 minutes, someone dies in a DUI accident.
Statistics show that someone is injured every 2 minutes by drunk drivers, still a #1 problem in the US.
Similarly, DUI crashes affect two out of three people worldwide at least once throughout their life.
4. 27% of young adults involved in fatal crashes have a .08+ BAC, according to NHTSA.
The most recent statistics by age show that the number of teenagers drinking and driving is relatively small. Data shows that 8% of teens under 16 and another 15% of people aged 16-20 drive under the influence.
That is 12% lower than the percentage of young adults (21-24). But, surprisingly, an average of 17% of drivers aged 65+ drive with a .08+ BAC. That is 2% more than teenage drivers!
5. An underage drunk driver causes one in four car crashes involving teenagers.
Teen drinking and driving statistics released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) show that 4,300 people are killed every year due to teenage alcohol use. Drunk driving is still the #1 cause of adolescent deaths.
Underage alcohol use is a serious issue that leads to deaths, injuries, and long-term dependence.
6. Drivers with BACs of .08 or higher, involved in fatal crashes, are likely to have prior convictions.
According to drunk driving statistics from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes are 4.5 times more likely to have prior DUI or DWI convictions than drivers with no alcohol level in their system.
7. 32 states and Washington DC passed interlock laws.
Studies show that ignition interlock devices (IIDs) reduce drunk driving recidivism. What is more, the ignition interlock law passed in most US states produced a significant decrease of 67% in the repetition of DUI offenses.
Checkpoints are also useful, reducing the number of drunk driving cases by 17%.
Drunk Driving Statistics by Year
Research conducted over the years suggests that both DUI cases and the number of fatalities have diminished. Even so, the recent numbers still indicate worrying rates.
8. Alcohol-impaired drivers cause 29% of crash fatalities.
As per data on drunk driving deaths per year in the US, in 2019, there were 10,142 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Of them, 5,818 (33%) involved the driver of a vehicle, and 1,664 (29%) — the passenger.
9. Stats on drunk driver deaths per year show that 9,598 drivers with a .08+ BAC died in car crashes in 2019.
When broken down into age groups, there were only 12 fatalities in drivers younger than 16. In fact, most of them (2,659) occurred to drivers in the 25–34 age group, followed by those between the ages of 34 and 44 (1,812).
10. The number of alcohol-impaired fatal crashes steadily decreases, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
(Insurance Information Institute, NHTSA)
In a study conducted from 1985 to 2019, the Institute reports a steady fall in fatal DUI incidents. For example, if in 1985, there were 18,125 deaths, until 2019, the number decreased to 7,983 deaths.
However, stats on drunk driving deaths from 2020 reveal that the number of alcohol-impaired crashes increased by 9% in 2020 compared to 2019.
11. The number of DUI cases dropped due to the pandemic.
(Live 5 News)
Law enforcement drunk driving stats claim that the closing of bars during lockdown caused this drop in DUI arrests in 2020. For instance, the County Sheriff in Berkeley, California, reported zero arrests in March 2020.
Similarly, there were no DUI cases in Dorchester, South Carolina, in February 2020.
12. In some American states, alcohol sales increased during the lockdown.
Some states reported a decrease in arrests for driving under the influence. Yet, other 2020 drunk driving statistics show, as in Nevada, that law enforcement issued 133 arrests to alcohol-impaired drivers in April—58 more than in April 2019.
In Colorado, death rates due to impaired driving doubled between January and April 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year.
13. 31% of US Gen Zers were likely to drive drunk in 2020.
(San Diego DUI)
From all responders to the 2020 survey, Gen Z ranked the highest. By comparison, only 8% of millennials claimed they were likely to drive under the influence.
More people belonging to Gen X (19%) than millennials admitted they were likely to drive alcohol-impaired.
Drunk Driving Statistics by State
The US situation by state shows no general trend. While one state can have an insignificant number of DUI incidents, others can go far above the national average.
14. Drunk driving results in 1,439 deaths in Texas.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that Texas is the US most dangerous state from this point of view, closely followed by California, with 1,069 people killed.
The same DUI statistics show that Montana has a concerning 43% deaths per number of residents, more than Texas (40%). Other states, such as Colorado, Illinois, and Maine, register a percentage equal to California (30%).
15. 44% of Rhode Island fatal road accidents involved drunk drivers in 2019.
North Dakota followed Rhode Island with 41% of drivers with a .08+ BAC causing deadly crashes, and New Hampshire with 40%.
Among the states with the lowest percentage of drunk drivers reported by NHTSA in 2019, Utah had the lowest rate with 16%, followed by Vermont, with 19%, and Kentucky, with 20%.
16. 1.7% of United States citizens admit driving after drinking too much.
The US drink and drive statistics show that a few American states surpass the national rate. Iowa and Nebraska report that 3.0% of their citizens drive under the influence. These states are closely followed by North Dakota with 2.8%.
Among the states that go above the 2.0% mark are also South Dakota (2.7%), Alaska (2.6%), Massachusetts (2.5%), Wisconsin (2.4%), Louisiana (2.3%), Washington D.C, Missouri, Montana, Texas, and Illinois ( with 2.2%), and Hawaii and Michigan with 2.1%.
17. 5.17% of North Dakota drivers have a DUI.
According to DUI stats, that is double the average national rate. Also, Wyoming doesn’t fall far behind with 5.16%.
Iowa and Nebraska, which report a high rate of people who admit driving after having too much to drink, are surprisingly only in the 9th and 10th positions among these top 10 states with the most DUIs. Nebraska has a 3.65 percentage, while Iowa has 3.52%.
18. 24 states and Washington D.C. report a rate of drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 residents lower than the 3.2 national average.
In fact, the drunk driving deaths study shows that Washington D.C. has the lowest rate nationwide, at 1.3 deaths per 100,000 citizens.
On the flip side, Wyoming reports 5.9 deaths, while South Carolina isn’t far behind, with 5.7 fatalities per 100,000 citizens. Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Dakota also surpass the 5.0 deaths mark.
19. 25.4 American drunk drivers with a BAC of .08+ are repeated offenders.
The most concerning rates are those reported by Alaska and Maine, where all drunk drivers repeat their crimes. New Hampshire also registers a worrying 57.1% of repeated offenders.
The statistic also shows states which register no repeated offenses, including Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.
Drunk Driving Statistics in Europe vs. America
20. Teenagers have higher alcohol intoxication rates in Europe than in the US.
This leads to significantly more drink-related problems in Europe. MADD suggests that letting kids drink at an earlier age than in the US is not solving the issue but aggravating it.
21. The United States and the UK have the same BAC .08 limitation.
The UK’s drink-drive limit is .08 and above, yet, there are far more strict countries in Europe regarding blood alcohol concentration.
In Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, people get a DUI fine for any alcohol level exceeding .00. In contrast, most EU countries have a .05 legal limit.
22. There are 240 deaths and 8,680 people injured in DUI accidents in the UK.
The latest impaired driving statistics in the UK show a decrease of 6% in fatal crashes than in previous years. The number of casualties, on the other hand, marks a 1% increase.
According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, drunk driving crashes on British roads represent a rate of 12-14% of all road deaths.
23. In England and Wales, three out of 10 drivers killed in road accidents are alcohol-impaired.
The numbers reported by the Institute of Alcohol Studies indicate that 29% of drivers cause fatal crashes and are killed themselves.
The percentage is split in half for a BAC over or below the limit. 14% of drivers are under the .08 legal limit, while 15% either reach or surpass this limit.
24. The percentage of drunk driving accidents in the EU is 25%.
According to the European Transport Safety Council, alcohol-impaired driving is one of the leading three causes of fatal crashes. The other two are exceeding speed limits and failure to wear a seatbelt.
On average, 6,500 deaths can be avoided if drivers keep within the drink-drive limits.
25. Countries with a blood alcohol concentration limit of .00 report fewer DUI fatalities.
France is the leader, with 985 people killed in alcohol-related crashes and a BAC .05 legal limit. However, the East European countries with a blood alcohol level limitation of .00 report significantly lower numbers.
Drunk driving death statistics show that Romania reported 118 DUI deaths, Hungary 65, Slovakia 31, and the Czech Republic 71.
Drunk Driving Impact – The Bottom Line
Many people consider driving under the influence still a severe concern in the US and worldwide. Stats and facts show that rates are dropping, but the numbers are still high. Several organizations, such as MADD, actively fight for stricter laws.
No country has completely solved this problem, despite having lower BAC limits than the US or the UK.
People Also Ask
Research shows that over 10,000 people die per annum in drunk driving crashes within the US. Twenty-nine people die every day in automobile accidents that involve a drunk driver, according to the CDC. In addition, NHTSA reports show that around 800 people per day are injured in drunk driving crashes, and 30 people die. If a driver’s BAC is above 0.10, they’re seven times more likely than a sober driver to be involved in an accident.
While most know that drunk driving is a difficult problem in our society, many aren’t aware of how common, and prevalent drunk driving truly is. Around 20% of American citizens admit they frequently drink-drive. Looking only at the hours from midnight to three a.m., 66 percent of drivers in single-vehicle crashes and 37 percent of drivers in multiple-vehicle crashes were alcohol-impaired. Information on the quantity of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or under the influence of alcohol is vital in developing a traffic safety policy.
Reckless driving began to increase in 2020, and even though the number of cars on the roads reduced that year, the number of speeding drivers didn’t. In fact, the number of drivers who drove more than 100mph even increased.
In comparison to the number of drunk driving fatalities from 2019, the one from 2020 grew by 5%.
In the US, in 2019, there were 10,142 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Of them, 5,818 (33%) involved the driver of a vehicle.
About a third of all traffic-related fatalities are attributed to drunk driving. More specifically, drunk driving is responsible for around 10,000 lives lost every year.
The influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or different medications is the second most likely cause of fatal highway accidents.
Studies show that a drunk driver can drive up to 80 times under the influence before being caught. Law enforcement finds it challenging to detect drunk drivers because not all of them are involved in fatal crashes. Moreover, it’s easy to flee a scene of a minor collision. Catching drunk drivers is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack since they are so many.
Alcohol-impaired driving causes one in three fatal crashes within the US. On average, this amounts to 33% of all highway fatalities. If you’re still wondering how big this matter is, we’ll offer some clarifications. Every day, 29 people within the US die in motorized vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. That can mean one death every 50 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals over $44 billion.
When it comes to fatalities from drunk driving, one country stands out from the remainder. The WHO Global Status report on Road Safety indicates that the African countries are among the world’s most dangerous ones for road accidents, with 25.1 deaths per 100,000 people each year. Comparing the US and Europe shows that France is the lead, with 985 people killed in alcohol-related crashes.
The states that surpass this national rate are Iowa and Nebraska, with 3.0% of their residents driving under the influence. Wyoming may well be the smallest in population but still has the second-highest percentage of DUIs, 5.16 percent. Not only does North Dakota have the highest DUI percentage, 5.17 percent, but adults also report the very highest rate of binge drinking within the nation. Drunk driving statistics show that nationwide, 1.7% of citizens admit driving after drinking an excessive amount.