Dangers of Drinking and Driving

Drinking and driving don't mix.

Very few people would agree that getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol is a good idea, and the facts about the dangers of drinking and driving listed here will reinforce that idea.

About the Dangers of Drinking and Driving

  • BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) refers to a certain percentage of alcohol present in a deciliter of blood. All states have set a legal limit for consumption of alcohol at 0.08 BAC for people 21 years of age and older. This means that if you have more than 0.08 grams of alcohol present per deciliter of blood and you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, or boat), you can be charged with a crime.
  • If you have ever smelled "alcohol" on someone's breath, you were mistaken. The aroma you noticed was caused by ingredients used to flavor the alcoholic beverage, not the alcohol itself.
  • 13,470 fatal accidents occurred in 2006 where the driver was legally impaired. This figure represents 32 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents for the year.
  • Someone loses their life every 30 minutes due to drinking and driving. A person is injured every two minutes in an accident where alcohol is involved.
  • Approximately 1.4 million people are arrested on criminal charges related to drinking and driving.
  • Breathalyzer results are not always reliable. More than 20 percent of people who provide a breath sample have blood alcohol levels that are lower than indicated by this piece of equipment.
  • Some convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) have been overturned on appeal because evidence gathered from a breathalyzer test is unreliable.

Teen Drinking

  • Approximately 30 percent of Americans will be involved in an accident where alcohol is a factor during their lifetime.
  • According to 2001 statistics, just under three million college students admitted driving while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Approximately 5,000 people 21-years-of-age and under died as a result of injures related to alcohol consumption.

Binge Drinking

  • Over 86 percent of young people (over age 21) who reported drinking and driving also admitted to binge drinking. Binge drinking is most common among people between the ages of 21 and 23. Just under half of 21-year-olds surveyed reported that they had engaged in binge drinking.
  • Binge drinkers make up 20 percent of the population of the United States, but consume more than 80 percent of all alcohol sold.

Statistics provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD Helps to Reduce Drinking and Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was formed in 1980. Since that time, the number of fatal accidents involving alcohol consumption has been reduced by almost half, from 30,000 to less than 16,000, in 2006.

Consequences of Drinking and Driving

In addition to these facts about the dangers of drinking and driving, you may be interested to know that there are consequences other than criminal charges that you will need to deal with. Many employers ask whether you have ever been convicted of a crime when you fill in a job application. It is legal for a potential employer to ask you about prior arrests in some states as well. This information may mean the difference between getting hired and being passed over in favor of another candidate.

Some car rental companies will not allow a person with a drunk driving conviction to rent a vehicle. If you are able to find a company that will rent to you, you may be charged a higher rate than other drivers.

Another consequence of being convicted of an alcohol-related offense is that you may be refused entry to foreign countries. For example, Canadian officials may refuse to let you enter the country or charge you a special fee for the privilege of doing so.

If you'd like to learn more, take LTK's Facts about Drinking and Driving Quiz.

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Dangers of Drinking and Driving