Alcohol is a known roadway killer. According to the NHTSA, drinking and driving kills 28 people a day in the US, which accounts for one person every 52 minutes. Over 10,000 lives are lost every year, making drunk driving one of the leading causes of premature death in the country.
Although drunk driving arrests are widespread, there are some states that experience more fatalities than others. There has also been a rise in overall fatalities since the pandemic.
What Happens When You Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol?
Driving while drunk is a serious crime. Strict enforcement of drunk-driving laws has led to a significant decrease in drunk-driving deaths since 1982. In most states, charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, with penalties such as license revocation, fines, and jail.
A first-time offense can cost you $10,000 in legal fees, and if convicted, you may need to drive with an ignition interlock device that acts as a breathalyzer test. If your alcohol level is lower than .02 g/dL, then the vehicle will become operational. Otherwise, the car won’t start.
What About Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
While alcohol is classified as a drug, most states put narcotics, such as LSD, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, in their own class. The severity of your charge depends on whether the substance is legal (marijuana receives a lesser sentence in legal states) and state-specific laws.
If you’re driving with illegal drugs while also being intoxicated, you could be charged with possession and a DUI. In all instances, your license is suspended, and you may go to jail.
If you or someone you know was arrested for a DUI or DUID in New Jersey, contact an NJ DWI lawyer immediately, as they can help you lower your sentence or avoid conviction. A DUI or DUID conviction could triple your insurance payments, so it’s in your best interest to act quickly.
Is Drunk Driving on the Rise in the United States?
Drunk driving numbers have been slowly decreasing since the 1980s, thanks to efforts from law enforcement and activist groups like MADD. Continued awareness has also led to fewer arrests, but the stress of COVID-19 and recent marijuana legalization have brought these numbers up.
The stress of the pandemic, increase of road-based distractions, and the surge in drug use has increased the amount of drunk-driving fatalities from 1.10 to 1.35 per 100 million in 2020. This number is shocking, considering the total miles traveled decreased by 14.5% in the same year.
It’s likely that this statistic will be lower after the world goes back to some semblance of normal.
The Top 5 Worst States for Drunk Driving
The NHTSA has been the primary source for drunk driving data since the 80s. Every year, they compile a list of the worst drunk driving states in the country, followed by the least dangerous.
The following US states experience the highest amount of drunk drivers.
- Wyoming: Wyoming ranks number one as the worst drunk-driving state thanks to its lenient laws and few sobriety checkpoints. Impairing driving killed 36/100,000 people in 2019, which is six times higher than the national average.
- North Dakota: North Dakota ranks number one in drunk driving arrests (4,827/762,062 people) but ranks second in impaired driving deaths.
- Montana: Montana has the second-highest fatality rate and DUI arrests in the country.
- Idaho: Idaho has tried to reduce its drunk driving issues with stricter laws, but DUI arrests still remain high. About 400 people are arrested for a DUI every year.
- Maine: Maine ranks fifth, with 405 DUI arrests and a high fatality rate.
Never drink and drive. Call a friend, rideshare, or taxi if you’re under the influence.