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Drunk driving, also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), is part of two different circumstances relating to drunk driving laws. Driving while intoxicated (on alcohol) is when the driver has an increased blood-alcohol level. Driving under the influence (of alcohol) is when the driver is physically impaired by their alcohol consumption.
In May of 2007 all 50 states adopted the legal limit of 0.08% blood-alcohol level for adults. This means that driving while having a blood-alcohol level that is above this amount is drunk driving in the eyes of the law. Some states have a zero tolerance limit for younger drivers (under legal drinking age).
Drunk driving when you are physically impaired means that the alcohol (or other legal or illegal substances) you have consumed inhibits your ability to drive safely. This means even if your blood-alcohol level does not exceed the national limit of 0.08% but your ability to see, hear, talk, walk, judge distances, or any other physical/mental ability used for driving is hindered you can be found guilty of drunk driving.
So, how much alcohol does it really take to intoxicate a person turning them into a drunk driver? The truth is it only takes three to four 12-ounce beers to intoxicate a 170 pound man. Women are known to become intoxicated faster than men and it would only take one to two 12-ounce beers to intoxicate the average female.
Statistics on drunk driving show that millions of people die every year due to intoxicated drivers. It is also estimated that over one billion dollars in property damage takes place because of alcohol abuse, addiction and reckless behavior. Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost our society over $114 billion dollars. This figure can be broken down into $51 billion in monetary costs and $63 billion in quality of life losses.
A recent survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that 30 million Americans have reported drunk driving or driving while under the influence. An additional 10 million admitted to driving while under the influence of illegal drugs. Some states in this survey reported drunk driving rates exceeding 20% of those who responded. This survey shows that 13.2% of Americans 16 years or older have driven under the influence of alcohol in the last 12 months. Of this 13.2%, 4.3% of them drove while under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs.
The state of Wisconsin had a drunk driving rate of 23.7% and North Dakota came in at 22.4%. States that had the highest drugged driving rates include Rhode Island 7.8% and Vermont 6.6%. The states with the lowest drunk driving statistics are Utah and Mississippi.
Self-reported drugged and drunk driving statistics:
On a positive note, overall drunk driving rates have been dropping over the years from 14.6% (2002-2005) to 13.2% (2006-2009). Also, drugged driving rates are down during this same time period from 4.8% to 4.3%.
The permanent injuries and loss of human life are some of the largest tolls that drunk driving has on our society. When a loved one loses their friend or family member to drunk driving their personal pain and grief never really go away. There are families who become absolutely devastated due to the effects of drunk driving that break apart and never recover from their loss. Others find a way to get by but never truly allow themselves to feel true joy and happiness again after losing their loved one.
The effects of drunk driving have consequences that extend beyond those who have lost a loved one or the lasting physical injuries suffered. A person who drives drunk and causes fatalities will have to live with the results of their actions. Knowing that each day there are people who suffer because of the reckless and poor choice they made to drive intoxicated. They may also have to serve time in jail for their DWI or DUI causing themselves all kinds of pain. They may lose custody of their kid(s), their job, their spouse, and so on. There are also the financial strains that their drunk driving will cost them. When a person is charged with drunk driving there are fines, court costs, treatment costs and increased insurance rates (that’s if the person doesn’t lose their license entirely).