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Deaths from drunk driving are preventable. Yet in 2021, over 13,000 people died as a result of alcohol-impaired traffic accidents. This is a 14% increase from the year before, meaning there were almost 2,000 more alcohol-impaired driving deaths in 2021 than in 2020. Each day in the United States, 37 people are killed in drunk driving crashes.
It is never safe to operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol, no matter the amount. Alcohol impairs necessary driving skills like decision-making, reaction time and coordination. It also affects speech, behavior and balance.
The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 g/dL. However, alcohol affects your body immediately and can influence the ability to drive well below the legal limit. Check out the timeline below for the impact of BAC on driving ability:
Click on the timeline to reveal effects
Reduced visual function and ability to multitask
Impaired coordination, lowered alertness and difficulty steering
Poor concentration and memory, loss of speed control and impaired perception
Lowered ability to stay in lane and brake appropriately
Significantly reduced vehicle control, attention and information processing
Not only is driving while intoxicated dangerous to yourself and others, but it also comes with serious repercussions. Impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states, and a first-time driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge can cost over $10,000. Click the tiles below for additional consequences of getting a DUI.
Big life events and holidays are usually a time for celebration. Often, these celebrations include drinking, which increases the risk of driving under the influence. Common events where alcohol may be present include promotions, retirement ceremonies and anniversaries. Holiday parties and observances such as the Fourth of July, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve may also involve alcohol.
Every year, almost 2,000 people in the United States are killed by alcohol and drug-related crashes during the holidays.
There are several reasons why drunk driving is more common during the holiday season:
More people are traveling, which means there are more cars on the road than usual.
Additional social gatherings with alcohol often occur during this time of year.
Alcohol consumption tends to increase during the holidays.
Increased number of DUI chargesand motor vehicle accidents
Although the holidays are a popular time for celebrating, alcohol consumption occurs year-round. Always remember that there is no acceptable time to drink and drive. There are many ways to ensure you can drink responsibly and enjoy your celebration. Follow the tips below for how to practice responsible drinking:
Own Your Limits Drinking Habits Quiz
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Rethink Drinking Tools
Military Crisis Line at 988, press 1 (also the Veterans Crisis Line)
Military Crisis Line online chat, text 838255
Veterans Affairs Services: Substance Abuse Programs
SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
SAMHSA National Helpline at 800-662-4357
Marine Corps Substance Abuse Program
Navy Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program (SARP)
Drunk Driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Overlooked Consequences of a DUI Conviction. Maryland Department of Transportation
DUI/Drunk Driving in the Military. Military Justice International
Safety Tips: Driving During the Holidays. Miami-Dade County
Impaired Driving. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Call 988 & Press 1
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