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In recent years, the Commonwealth of Virginia has prioritized greater public awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and has committed more resources to preventing it on a local and statewide level.
Many drivers simply do not fully understand the mental effects that alcohol and drugs can have on a person—and how they can make some drivers incapable of operating a vehicle safely. Others have substance abuse issues or are simply irresponsible and fail to make smart decisions.
The following are seven statistics from the state Department of Motor Vehicles and other sources on drunk driving in Virginia and nationwide:
1. Deaths and injuries: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 28 people die in drunk driving accidents every day across the United States, amounting to a death every 53 minutes. A person is injured in a drunk driving accident every 90 seconds.
2. Expenses: Drunk driving crashes rack up about $199 billion in expenses every single year from damages to litigation, which costs about $800 per taxpayer each year.
3. Frequency: Law enforcement officials estimate that there are about 300,000 incidents of drunk driving per day across the United States. Of those, only 4,000 people are placed under arrest. This figure comes from a 2011 CDC report indicating adults drank too much and got behind the wheel to drive approximately 112 million times the previous year. The average drunk driver has typically operated while intoxicated about 80 times before his or her first arrest.
4. Repeat offenders: Drivers who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above the legal limit of .08 percent in fatal crashes are seven times more likely to have already been convicted once before. Of the approximately 1.5 million drunk driving arrests that will be made each year, about 20 percent or more will be repeat offenders. Between 60 and 80 percent of drivers who have suspended licenses after a DUI offense continue to drive anyway.
5. Demographics: Males are almost twice as likely as females to operate while intoxicated. Alcohol use is also significantly higher among male drivers between 15 and 20 years old than female drivers in that age group. More than one-third of teens say drinking and driving is an issue about which they care and worry deeply.
6. Ignition interlock devices: There are more than 300,000 ignition interlock devices currently installed in vehicles across the United States. When these devices are installed, there is a 67 percent reduction of repeat offenses, according to a CDC report. Other effective reduction strategies include DUI checkpoints, minimum legal drinking age laws and stronger enforcement.
7. Addiction: Approximately 23 million Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Of this number, most (18.7 million) are addicted to alcohol. This can be a key factor leading to individuals’ problems with drinking and driving.
These statistics have led to a very unforgiving atmosphere in our courthouses when it comes to DUI/DWI cases. Many times cops, prosecutors, and (yes) even judges would rather “err on the side of caution” and toss “reasonable doubt” out the window.
Why? Because of these statistics!
But you are NOT a statistic and your case deserves individualized attention and consideration. Protecting your rights and keeping your record clean will ensure you don’t become one of these statistics.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in both Virginia and across the United States, and police officers, prosecutors and courts tend to treat offenders harshly. For further guidance on how you can defend yourself against these charges, consult an experienced Fairfax County Fairfax DWI attorney with The NoVa Law Firm.