2009 Drunk Driving Statistics

Click here for drunk driving statistics for 2008; 20072006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002; 2001; 2000.

All 50 states in the US and Puerto Rico now apply two statutory offenses to driving under the influence of alcohol. The first (and original) offense is known either as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI), or operating [a motor vehicle] while intoxicated/impaired (OWI). This is based upon a police officer's observations (driving behavior, slurred speech, the results of a roadside sobriety test, etc.)

The second offense is called "illegal per se", which is driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL or higher. Since 2002 it has been illegal in all 50 states to drive with a BAC that is 0.08 or higher. Drivers are considered to be alcohol-impaired when their BAC is .08 or higher.

In 2009, there were 10,839 fatalities in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher – 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.

Traffic fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased by 7.4 percent from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,839 in 2009. The alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased to 0.36 in 2009 from 0.39 in 2008. An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2009.

Of the 10,839 people who died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2009, 7,281 (67%) were drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 2,891 (27%) motor vehicle occupants and 667 (6%) nonoccupants.

In 2009, a total of 1,314 children age 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those 1,314 fatalities, 181 (14%) occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Out of those 181 deaths, 92 (51%) were occupants of a vehicle with a driver who had a BAC level of .08 or higher, and another 27 children (15%) were pedestrians or pedalcyclists struck by drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2009 was four times higher at night than during the day (37% versus 9%). In 2009, 16 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent on weekends.

In fatal crashes in 2009 the highest percentage of drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (35%), followed by ages 25 to 34 (32%) and 35 to 44 (26%).

The percentages of drivers involved in fatal crashes with a BAC level of .08 or higher in 2009 were 29 percent for motorcycle riders and 23 percent for both passenger cars and light trucks. The percentage of drivers with BAC levels of .08 or higher in fatal crashes was the lowest for large trucks (2%).

In 2009, 5,851 passenger vehicle drivers killed had a BAC of .08 or higher. Out of those driver fatalities for which restraint use was known, 72 percent were unrestrained. Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) than were drivers with no alcohol (8% and 1%, respectively).

In 2009, the percentage of drivers with BAC of .08 or above in fatal crashes was highest for motorcycle riders (29%).

Drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired than were drivers with no alcohol.

In 2009, 6,685 (56%) of the drivers involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking had a BAC of .15 or greater.

 

Alcohol-related deaths in the US since 1982:

 
Total fatalities
Alcohol-related fatalities
Year
Number
Number
Percent
1982
43,945
26,173
60
1983
42,589
24,635
58
1984
44,257
24,762
56
1985
43,825
23,167
53
1986
46,087
25,017
54
1987
46,390
24,094
52
1988
47,087
23,833
51
1989
45,582
22,424
49
1990
44,599
22,587
51
1991
41,508
20,159
49
1992
39,250
18,290
47
1993
40,150
17,908
45
1994
40,716
17,308
43
1995
41,817
17,732
42
1996
42,065
17,749
42
1997
42,013
16,711
40
1998
41,501
16,673
40
1999
41,717
16,572
40
41,945
17,380
41
42,196
17,400
41
43,005
17,524
41
42,643
17,013
40
42,518
16,919
39
43,443
16,885
39
42,532
15,829
37
41,059
15,387
37
37,261
13,846
37
2009
33,808
10,759
38

Drinking and driving fatalities by state in 2009 (ranked by highest number of alcohol-related* deaths):

State
Total Fatalities

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

Number
Percent
Texas 3,071 1,437 47%
California 3,081 1,118 36%
Florida 2,558 904 35%
Pennsylvania 1,256 470 37%
North Carolina 1,314 430 33%
South Carolina 894 423 47%
Georgia 1,284 394 31%
New York 1,156 388 34%
Illinois 911 381 42%
Ohio 1,021 378 37%
Louisiana 821 366 45%
Missouri 878 358 41%
Tennessee 989 345 35%
Alabama 848 325 38%
Michigan 871 291 33%
Virginia 757 278 37%
Oklahoma 738 265 36%
Mississippi 700 264 38%
Arizona 807 260 32%
Wisconsin 561 251 45%
Indiana 693 249 36%
Kentucky 791 239 30%
Washington 492 232 47%
Arkansas 585 211 36%
Maryland 547 194 35%
New Jersey 583 185 32%
Colorado 465 178 38%
Kansas 386 177 46%
Oregon 377 141 37%
West Virginia 356 134 38%
Minnesota 421 131 31%
Massachusetts 334 130 39%
New Mexico 361 129 36%
Iowa 372 118 32%
Connecticut 223 114 51%
Montana 221 92 42%
Nevada 243 90 37%
Nebraska 223 88 39%
Idaho 226 65 29%
Hawaii 109 59 54%
North Dakota 140 59 42%
South Dakota 131 59 45%
Utah 244 54 22%
Wyoming 134 54 40%
Maine 159 53 33%
Delaware 116 48 42%
Rhode Island 83 40 48%
New Hampshire 110 36 33%
Vermont 74 28 37%
Alaska 64 22 35%
Dist of Columbia 29 12 41%
National 33,808 12,744 38%
Puerto Rico 365 141 39%

The table below shows alcohol-impaired** motor vehicle fatalities in the US for 2008.

State Total Fatalities* BAC=.08+
Number Number Percent
Texas 3,071 1,235 40%
California 3,081 950 31%
Florida 2,558 770 30%
Pennsylvania 1,256 406 32%
South Carolina 894 377 42%
North Carolina 1,314 363 28%
Georgia 1,284 331 26%
Ohio 1,021 324 32%
New York 1,156 321 28%
Illinois 911 319 35%
Tennessee 989 303 31%
Missouri 878 300 34%
Louisiana 821 295 36%
Alabama 848 280 33%
Michigan 871 246 28%
Virginia 757 243 32%
Oklahoma 738 235 32%
Mississippi 700 234 33%
Arizona 807 219 27%
Wisconsin 561 213 38%
Indiana 693 210 30%
Washington 492 206 42%
Kentucky 791 194 25%
Arkansas 585 168 29%
Maryland 547 162 30%
Colorado 465 158 34%
Kansas 386 154 40%
New Jersey 583 149 25%
Oregon 377 115 30%
West Virginia 356 115 32%
New Mexico 361 114 32%
Minnesota 421 108 26%
Massachusetts 334 108 32%
Connecticut 223 99 44%
Iowa 372 96 26%
Montana 221 81 36%
Nevada 243 68 28%
Nebraska 223 66 30%
Idaho 226 58 26%
North Dakota 140 54 38%
South Dakota 131 53 40%
Hawaii 109 52 48%
Maine 159 47 29%
Wyoming 134 47 35%
Delaware 116 45 38%
Utah 244 40 16%
Rhode Island 83 34 40%
New Hampshire 110 30 27%
Vermont 74 23 32%
Alaska 64 20 31%
Dist of Columbia 29 10 35%
National 33,808 10,839 32%
Puerto Rico 365 109 30%

 

*According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term 'alcohol-related' does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol."

**A driver involved in a motor vehicle crash is considered alcohol-impaired if he or she exhibits a BAC of .08 or greater.

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