How Many People Die From Drinking and Driving?

Fatalities on the road are a real result of drunk driving. So, how many people actually die from drinking and driving in the United States?

The number of fatalities due to drunk driving was not a historically significant number for a very long time. By significant, I simply mean it was not closely watched. It was only when one enraged mother took action that the issue really came front and center in the public eye. Since then, there has been a major effort to enforce drunk driving laws and stop fatalities.


So, how many people die from drinking and driving? Well, the numbers vary each year, but they are generally between 13,000 and 14,000. These numbers are actually a marked improvement over the historic figures. This is primarily due to the efforts of law enforcement, new laws and the lobbying and publicity efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In one of their campaigns, they actually reduced the number of fatalities by 20 percent from 1990 to 1997. Unfortunately, the numbers haven’t changed much since then.

It is important to remember the scope of people that die from drinking and driving. Oddly, it is often not the drunk driver that is killed. Usually, it is people walking or in the other car that are killed. The recent case of Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL, is an example. He was allegedly driving drunk down a street in Miami and hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian was killed and Stallworth was not hurt. He now faces manslaughter charges as of the writing of this article.

The number of people who die from drinking and driving can also be divided up by other measurements. For instance, most fatal accidents take place at night. This is hardly a surprise given the relationship of evening nightlife and alcohol. The increased rate, however, is pretty shocking. Four times as many fatalities occur at night versus the day.

There is also a second measurement of drinking and driving that is some times included in the calculation. The above figures refer to deaths causes by alcohol impaired drivers. These are drivers with blood alcohol percentages over the .08 legal limit. Alcohol, however, can impair judgment below this level. Deaths cause by people who have consumed alcohol, but don’t meet the .08 figure, are called alcohol related deaths. This is a harder figure to measure, but it is roughly 2,000 a year.

How many people die from drinking and driving? 13,000 to 14,000 is the technical answer, but even one is really too many. 

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