An average of 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes in 2016 (1).
The problem of driving under the influence:
- Texas continues to lead the nation in alcohol impaired driving fatalities (1).
- In 2016, 26% drivers with BAC levels of .08% or higher were between 21 and 24 years of age, the second largest percent of any age group (1).
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 was 3.3 times times higher at night than during the day (30% versus 9%), this has remained constant over the past 10 years (1).
- For college aged individuals, the highest number of fatalities occurred between midnight and 2:59 a.m.. Among crashes that involved alcohol – a whopping 35% occurred between 12 am – 3 am (3).
- In 2016, 14 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 26 percent on weekends (1).
Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking:
- An estimated 38.4% of young adults ages 18-25 or 2 out of every 5 young adults were current binge alcohol users and 10.1% of young adults reported heavy alcohol use (2).
- Young people ages 18-25 have the highest level of binge alcohol use compared to any other age group (2).
- In the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 32.4% of college students ages 18–22 engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion) in the past month compared with 28.7% of their non-college peers (4).
- In addition, 40.8% of college students ages 18–22 engaged in heavy drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion) in the past month compared with 9.5% of their non-college peers (3).
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. Be sure to always keep a DUDE around: DESIGNATED UNIMPAIRED DRIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE.
- A good rule of thumb to know if someone has had to 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:
- Zero tolerance law makes it illegal per se (in and of itself) for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood (5).
- 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 (5).
- A DUI conviction follows you, so there is the added embarrassment, humiliation, and potential loss and consequence related to academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more (5).
- Increased efforts by local law enforcement make the chances of getting caught even greater.
- The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a study which found that a first time offender could expect to pay between $5,000 and $24,000 for DWI arrest and conviction.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2016 data: alcohol-impaired driving. Washington, DC. Available at URL: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812450
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Available at:https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.pdf
- Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2016.
- NIDA, Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2016 https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2016
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- Hingson RW, Zha W, Weitzman ER. Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, July(Suppl 16): 12-20, 2009.