An average of 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 45 minutes in 2020 (1).
The problem of driving under the influence:
- Texas continues to lead the nation in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (1).
- In 2020, 11% of drivers with BAC levels of 0.08% or higher were between 21 and 24 years of age (1).
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day (30% versus 9%), this has remained constant over the past 10 years (2).
- In 2019, 14% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 26 percent on weekends (2).
Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking:
- In the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 32.3% of young adults, or about 1/3 of young adults, were current binge alcohol users (3).
- In addition, about 32.7% of college-enrolled students in 2019 were also heavy alcohol users (3).
Drinking Among College Students vs. Non-College Young Adults:
- In 2019, 12.6% of full-time college students reported a substance abuse disorder in the past year compared to 13.4% of non-college-aged youth (4).
- Alcohol use in college students is higher than their non-college peers. 53% of college students reported alcohol use in the past month compared to 44% of their non-college peers (4).
What to do about driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Driving after even one drink is just not worth it. Ride with a sober friend, ask someone else to drive, or call a parent or older sibling.
- A good rule of thumb to know if someone has had too much is to count their drinks NOT their physical cues of intoxication. Research has shown that most people don’t exhibit signs of intoxication until over .15 (5).
- Food, coffee, or exercise will not reduce the amount of alcohol in your system. Only time decreases the effects of alcohol.
- Don’t believe you can “fool” a police officer. They are trained to look for tale-tell signs of a driver who is under the influence.
- If a friend has been drinking and is about to drive, speak up. Offer to drive, take the keys or call a parent. An angry friend is better than a dead friend.
- Never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. Everyone reacts to alcohol differently. If you know a friend has been drinking, assume they are unable to drive.
Additional consequences of driving under the influence:
- Violators of underage drinking laws often face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver’s license, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines (6).
- The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a study that found that a first-time offender could expect to pay between $5,000 and $24,000 for a DWI arrest and conviction (7).
- College students surveyed also reported experiencing the following when drinking alcohol (8):
- Did something they later regretted (18.5%)
- Forgot where they were or what they did (10.8%)
- NHTSA FARS Data, 2020
- NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, 2019 [Cited 2021 July]. Available at URL: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813120
- Schulenberg, J. E., Patrick, M. E., Johnston, L. D.,O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Miech, R. A. (2021). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2020: Volume II, College students and adults ages 19–60. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs.html#monographs
- SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018 and 2019. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHDetailedTabs2019/NSDUHDetTabsSect6pe2019.htm#tab6-21b
- Brick J. and Erickson, C. K. (2009). Intoxication is not always visible: An unrecognized prevention challenge.
- Texas DPS, 2020. Alcohol and Minors – Texas has ZERO TOLERANCE. https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/getForm.ashx?id=DL-20.pdf
- TxDOT, https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/sober-safe/intoxication.html#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20penalties%20for%20a%20DWI%3F&text=Up%20to%20a%20%242%2C000%20fine,license%20up%20to%20a%20year
- American College Health Association, Fall 2021. National College Health Assessment, Reference Group Executive Summary. Available at: https://www.acha.org/documents/ncha/NCHA-III_FALL_2021_REFERENCE_GROUP_EXECUTIVE_SUMMARY.pdf
Updated August 2023