Alvaro Medina Jurado

Drunk driving statistics

Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people a year in the United States. It’s no wonder insurance companies take it very seriously.

Logan Sachon

By

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, Life Insurance & Research

Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of life insurance and research at Policygenius, where she edits life insurance content and leads life insurance surveys and data studies. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Guardian, Business Insider, CNN Money, BuzzFeed, Money Under 30, VICE, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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Drunk driving, also known as driving under the influence, leads to over 10,000 deaths per year in the U.S. As Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the organization aimed at eliminating drunk driving, puts it, each of those deaths was preventable. If that isn't sobering enough, maybe these statistics are.

What is drunk driving?

The legal definition of drunk driving in the U.S. based on blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which can be measured by blood, breath, or urine tests. Any amount of alcohol in the blood impairs driving ability, but .08 g/dL is referred to as alcohol impaired driving.

.08: BAC in grams per deciliter (g/dL) at which crash risk increases exponentially; and the level at which it is illegal to drive in Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and all 50 states except Utah.  [1]

.05: BAC level in g/dL at which it is illegal to drive in Utah. [2]

.01: BAC in g/dL at which you are an impaired driver, with, “decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention).” [3]

How many people die from drunk driving?

Nearly one-third of all traffic deaths involve a drunk driver. 

10,142: Number of drunk driving fatalities in 2019, including people killed by a drunk driver. [4]

36,096: Total number of people killed in traffic crashes ("traffic fatalities") in 2019. [5]

28%: Share of car crash deaths that involve a drunk driver. [6]  

28: Number of people that die each day in the U.S. in a motor vehicle crash caused by a drunk driver. [7]

1,775: Number of people who died in 2019 from alcohol impaired drivers with BAC levels from .01 to .07. [8]

How many children and teens die of drunk driving? 

The traffic crash is the leading cause of death for teens.

204: Number of children 14 and under who died in drunk driving crashes in 2019, out of 1,053 total traffic deaths of children in 2019. [9]

600: Number of 15-20 year-old drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019. [10]

15%: Share of 15-20 year old drivers involved in fatal accidents who were drunk in 2019. [11]

Who is most likely to drive drunk? 

The typical driver involved in a drunk driving crash is a male between the ages of 21 and 24.

27%: Drunk drivers 21-24, involved in fatal crashes in 2019, the greatest percentage of any age group. [12]

4:1: Ratio of drunk male to drunk female drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 (versus 3:1, ratio of male to female drivers involved in all fatal crashes). [13]

29%: Share of drunk drivers in fatal crashes driving a motorcycle, the largest share of any vehicle (next largest: 20% driving passenger cars). [14]

Where and when are there the most drunk drivers? 

The typical fatal drunk driving accident occurs in an urban area, in clear/cloudy conditions, in the dark, and on a non-interstate road.

56%: Fatal drunk driving crashes that occur in urban areas (vs. 44% in rural areas). [15]

90%: Fatal drunk driving crashes that occur in clear/cloudy conditions (vs. 8% in rainy conditions, 2% in other). [16]

68%: Fatal drunk driving accidents that occur in the dark (vs. 27% in daylight, 3% at dusk, 1% at dawn). [17]

87%: Fatal drunk driving accidents that occur on non-interstate roads (vs. 13% on interstate roads). [18]

States with highest drunk driving deaths as percentage of total traffic deaths 

  1. Rhode Island (44%) 

  2. North Dakota (41%) 

  3. New Hampshire (40%) 

  4. Connecticut (38%) 

  5. Texas (37%) 

List data: NHTSA [19]

What drivers should know about insurance and drunk driving 

If you’re convicted of driving under the influencer (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), your car insurance premiums will likely go up significantly, and your insurance company may not renew your policy. Read more about getting car insurance with a drunk driving offense on your record. 

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    . "

    “Drunk Driving”

    ." Accessed April 18, 2022.

  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    . "

    “Traffic Safety Facts: Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2019”

    ." Accessed April 18, 2022.

  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    . "

    “Traffic Safety Facts: 2019 Data”

    ." Accessed April 18, 2022.

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Author

Senior Managing Editor, Life Insurance & Research

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, Life Insurance & Research

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Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of life insurance and research at Policygenius, where she edits life insurance content and leads life insurance surveys and data studies. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Guardian, Business Insider, CNN Money, BuzzFeed, Money Under 30, VICE, New York Magazine, and elsewhere.

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