California Drunk Driving Statistics

Driving while intoxicated is one of the most irresponsible acts a person can engage in since it can so easily lead to death and serious injury. Unfortunately, however, thousands of people get behind the wheel and drive drunk every year costing many lives. Many of the white crosses we pass by with saddened hearts on the highway are due to the careless actions of drunk drivers.

According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, 1,768 people died from alcohol related vehicular crashes in 2010 alone (the latest year for which all statistics are tabulated). Additionally, there were 24,343 injuries from traffic accidents involving alcohol of which many of these were quite serious.

In the fatal car accidents involving an intoxicated driver, more than 52% involved one or more additional vehicles. About 35% of the fatalities involved the driver crashing into a stationary object and killing themselves.

Even though the percentage of female drunk drivers has risen every year since the late 1980s, based on DUI arrest records, males still far outnumber women in this category with about 77% of those arrested for DUI in 2010 being male. Parents may want to share these facts and statistics with their teenage children and recently fledged young adults.

The average age of a driver charged with DUI is 30 years old. 35% of all those arrested for DUI are between the ages of 21 and 24, by far the highest age bracket for DUIs. While less than 1% of those arrested for DUI are under the age of 18, a driver in California is considered underage for drinking and driving if he or she is less than 21 years of age. Furthermore, there is a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. As part of this zero tolerance policy, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is much lower for those under 21 years old than for those 21 years old and older. The blood alcohol limit for underage drivers (less than 21 years old) is less than 0.01%, whereas the legal limit for those 21 years old and older is less than 0.08%. Young adults should take note that just half a beer exceeds their limit. Moreover, a dose of some cough syrups can exceed this limit as well.

The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs reports that the chance of having a traffic accident increases significantly at BAC levels of just 0.05%. They also report that the chance of having a traffic accident climbs very significantly after 0.08%. One beer or a small glass of wine can push you past this level.

There is some good news concerning drinking statistics in California. Starting in 2006, there has been a downward trend in car crash fatalities due to drunk driving. Between 2009 and 2010, there was a very significant 15% decrease, the biggest decline we’ve seen. Furthermore, the underage DUI arrest rate also went down slightly between 2009 and 2010 (0.4%). Let’s hope this downward trend continues!

If you are ever tempted to drive drunk, stop and think for a moment about the serious consequences that could entail. No one wants to be responsible for leaving a child motherless or fatherless, for leaving a young adult crippled for life, or for killing anyone’s spouse, sibling, or grandparent. It is such a senseless act because it is so easily prevented by just personally pledging to not engage in drunk driving and helping to persuade those around you not to do so either.

If you or a family member has been injured due to a drunk driver, you need a law firm experienced in DUI negligence cases to help you sort through all the legal issues. An experienced law firm can also take a big burden off your shoulders in your time of hardship and grief.