Around one-third of traffic-related deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And from 2003 to 2012, more than 10,000 of those deaths happened in the State of California. The state’s drunk driving statistics are shocking to many, which is why DUI penalties have become very strict.
Let’s take a closer look at the stats on drunk driving in California according to the CDC.
Alcohol-Related Deaths by Age and Gender in California
Californians in their 20s and 30s are most at risk for drunk driving-related fatalities. In fact, motor accidents also the number one cause of death in Americans below the age of 30.
According data from 2012, Americans between the ages of 21-34 had by far the highest rate of drunk driving-related deaths both in California and throughout the country. The rates of death per 100,000 people from alcohol-impaired driving by each age group in California were:
- 4.5 for ages 21-34
- 1.8 for age 31 and up
- 0.9 for ages 20 and below
- 2.0 for all ages
This was compared to national rates, which were 6.7, 3.1, 1.3, and 3.3, respectively.
More men were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2012, at a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 people versus 1.0 per 100,000 for women in California. The national rate was 5.2 per 100,000 for men and 1.5 per 100,000 for women.
Note: A driver is considered legally “alcohol-impaired” in the United States when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher.
Self-Reported Drunk Drivers
The same data from 2012 found 1.8% of Californians reported driving after drinking too much in the last 30 days. This was very close to the national percentage of 1.9.
Strategies that Help Prevent or Reduce Drunk Driving
While alcohol-related accidents and drunk driving has decreased in recent years, the CDC reports people still drove while alcohol-impaired around 121 million times in 2012.
Awareness around DUI-related accidents and deaths can help us collectively work to reduce the amount of them. Here are some methods that the CDC has reported as working in this effort:
Drunk Driving Laws
In all states, driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more is illegal. In California, DUI penalties are severe if someone is convicted. And those under the age of 21 who drive while under the influence fall into a “no tolerance” zone. This means it’s illegal to drive with any amount of measurable alcohol in their body.
According to the CDC, enacting drunk driving laws have saved tens of thousands of lives nationwide.
Ignition Interlock Devices
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are small breathalyzers that DUI offenders are often required to have installed in their vehicles. Before the vehicle will start, the driver must blow into the machine and there must be no detection of alcohol. This helps prevent repeat drunk driving offenses.
Beginning in 2019, Californians with repeat DUI convictions and first-time offenders whose DUI resulted in injury must get an IID installed in their vehicle. They also may be able to get an IID-restricted driver’s license for installing the device.
There are two ways a drunk driver can get their license suspended in California:
- Through the DMV (an admin per se suspension) after arrest for DUI and/or
- Through the courts after conviction
These checkpoints are areas where police stop some or all drivers to check if they are under the influence. If an officer has reason to suspect a driver is impaired, they may administer a breath test.
Instructional programs in schools may be used to teach teen drivers about drunk driving and riding with drunk drivers. Without more evidence, it’s still unclear whether school programs are effective at reducing drunk driving and DUI accidents.
Alcohol Screenings and Interventions
Screenings and interventions happens in different settings, including schools and health care businesses, and work as a combined strategy to help identify and treat those at risk for alcohol issues.
When combined with other drunk driving prevention strategies, media campaigns can be helpful in spreading messages about impaired driving and dissuading people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
Were You Arrested for Drunk Driving in California?
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