The Consequences of Driving Under the Influence

Many may find themselves in a situation where they weigh the options of driving after drinking or finding a safer alternative. Unfortunately, some people decide to drive, putting their own lives and the lives of others in danger. Drinking and driving is the cause of at least 10,000 deaths a year, with 30 people on average dying daily from crashes related to drunk driving. Learn about drunk driving stats, who usually risks driving while intoxicated and what the consequences are so more live aren’t negatively impacted.

Drunk Driving Statistics

According to the US Department of Transportation, over 36,500 people were killed in 2018 from motor vehicle crashes. Of this number, more than 10,500 persons lost their lives due to drunk driving. The number of deaths has decreased since 2016, but damages and lost lives are still significant. In addition to the loss of life and grief that families go through, crashes resulting from drunk driving cause over $44 billion in damages annually.

Who Is Driving Drunk?

Those that are most at risk of drunk driving are young people, motorcyclists and those with prior driving under the influence (DUI) convictions. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 27% of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were between the ages of 25 and 34. Individuals aged 21 to 24 posed the second-highest risk, at 26%. 

In 2019, motorcyclists accounted for 25% of those involved in fatal crashes, having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was over 0.08%. The CDC also found that individuals involved in fatal crashes with a BAC above 0.08% were 4.5 times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction.

What is BAC?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are used to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. BAC is based on the size of a standard drink, which is 0.6 ounces. According to the CDC, the average liver can process one standard drink per hour. The more you drink, the higher your BAC levels will be. However, BAC is also affected by gender, weight, genetics and drinking habits. BAC levels may be the same in those who had different amounts of drinks, but a legal limit is used to classify being intoxicated while driving.

The legal limit to drive legally in the United States is a BAC level of 0.08%. This level is set based on alcohol’s effects on your body and mental state. As BAC increases, there are several symptoms you may experience, including:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow reaction time
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with memory
  • Changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Fainting or blacking out

Experiencing any of these symptoms indicates it is not safe to drive. 

Consequences of Driving Under the Influence

Driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI) and operating under the influence (OUI) are serious offenses that can have deadly consequences for you, others on the road, and the families of those involved. If drunk driving does not have fatal consequences, there is still the possibility of legal action.

A first-time offender who is pulled over for driving under the influence will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine and attend a defensive driving class. An offender who takes part in a drunk driving accident that results in severe bodily harm or death of another will be charged with a felony.

Laws and illegal BAC levels vary from state to state. However, having a BAC below the legal limit still has dangers that may lead to severe consequences. An accident does not have to occur to suffer the consequences of drunk driving. Driving while intoxicated can lead to your license being suspended or revoked. 

Preventing drunk driving and taking the proper precautions are necessary for safety. It is always better to wait to drive until you are sober.


If you or a loved one find yourself behind the wheel after a few drinks or doing drugs, you may need help for a substance use disorder. Before driving under the influence becomes a tragedy, you can try to seek a life of sobriety. At Casa Palmera, we understand the effects of alcohol use. We strive to provide top-notch treatment for our patients, including programs such as medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and more. We believe we can make a difference in the lives of those struggling with alcohol use disorders. To learn more about the dangers of drunk driving and treatment for alcohol use disorders, contact us today. Together we can help you move away from addiction and into a new life of sobriety.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.