Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year

Drunk driving deaths per year are numbered in the thousands. It's estimated that 29 people die from drunk driving each day in the United States. Not only that, alcohol-impaired fatalities cost the U.S. about $44 billion per year. DUI can even affect your auto insurance rates, increasing them by at least 30 percent. If you've been involved in a drunk driving accident with or without a fatality, get legal advice.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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  • A total of 10,142 people were killed due to drunk driving in 2019
  • Drunk driving deaths decreased by 5.3 percent from 2018
  • A DUI is a major offense that results in fines, jail time, and suspension of driving privileges

There are thousands of drunk driving deaths per year. Due to the number of preventable deaths, law enforcement comes down hard on DUI/DWI offenses by taking away driver’s licenses and even vehicle registration for repeat offenders. Auto insurance companies respond to drunk driving by increasing rates.

But how many deaths occur due to drunk driving per year? Read on for more information on drunk driving deaths and how DUI affects car insurance.

If you’ve committed a DUI or want to pursue legal action against a drunk driver, enter your ZIP code in our free online tool to find legal help in your local area.

Latest Statistics on Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the national drunk driving crash fatality totals every year. The organization publishes research one year behind.

Therefore, 2019’s data was released in December 2020, and 2020’s data will likely be released in the third or fourth quarter of 2021. The information in the next two sections is the latest drunk driving deaths.

Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year by State

Let’s look at the drunk driving deaths by state and compare the numbers from 2018 to 2019. Use the search box at the top right-hand corner to find your state.

Alcohol Impaired-Driving Fatalities by State (2018 to 2019)
StatesTotal Fatalities in 2018Number of Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities in 2018Percent of Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities in 2018Total Fatalities in 2019Number of Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities in 2019Percent of Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities in 2019Change in Number of Total Fatalities from 2018 to 2019Percent Change in Total Fatalities from 2018 to 2019Change in Number of Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities from 2018 to 2019Percent Change in Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatalities from 2018 to 2019
District of Columbia (Washington DC31826%23626%-8-25.80%-2-25.00%
New Hampshire1474631%1014040%-46-31.30%-6-13.00%
New Jersey56312723%55912923%-4-0.70%+2+1.6%
New Mexico39211329%42412931%+32+8.2%+16+14.2%
New York96432534%93126228%-33-3.40%-63-19.40%
North Carolina1,43641929%1,37332324%-63-4.40%-96-22.90%
North Dakota1052826%1004141%-5-4.80%+13+46.4%
Rhode Island592238%572544%-2-3.40%+3+13.6%
South Carolina1,03629028%1,00128528%-35-3.40%-5-1.70%
South Dakota1304635%1022827%-28-21.50%-18-39.10%
West Virginia2945820%2605622%-34-11.60%-2-3.40%
Puerto Rico30812942%2898028%-19-6.20%-49-38.00%
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The total number of people that died from DUI-related crashes in 2018 was 10,711. By 2019, the number of drunk driving deaths decreased by 299.

Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year by Vehicle Type

We continued our research and found the DUI-related fatalities by vehicle type. Review the drunk driving fatality totals below to see which vehicle was more likely to be involved in a fatal drunk-driving crash.

Alcohol-Impaired Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes, by Vehicle Type from 2018 to 2019
Vehicle Types2018 Fatalities2019 FatalitiesChange in Number of FatalitiesPercent Change
Passenger Cars4,4793,975-504-11%
Light Truck – SUVs1,6801,637-43-2.60%
Light Truck – Pickups1,8311,828-3-0.20%
Light Truck – Vans252238-14-5.60%
Large Trucks13698-38-28%
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Passenger cars were the most likely vehicle to encounter fatal drunk driving crashes, followed by pickup trucks.

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Consequences for Drunk Driving

If you’re caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can face one or all consequences listed below:

  • Jail Time (multiple offenses and degree of offense can result in a felony)
  • Fines
  • Revoked License
  • Vehicle Registration Suspended

Each state has different consequences, but they are equally firm on drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders.

Drunk Driving is a Huge Problem

DUI and DUI-related deaths affect millions every year. Although thousands of people die from DUI-related crashes, millions of people are affected by DUI incidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the annual cost for drunk driving crashes are roughly $44 billion.

What age group is more at risk for drunk driving?

According to the NHTSA, the age groups that are the most at risk for drunk driving fatalities are drivers age 21 to 34 years olds.

Despite teens (drivers aged 15 to 20) being the third most at-risk group (24 percent), DUI-related crash fatalities were the leading cause of teen deaths in 2018.

In 2018, 27 percent of DUI-related fatalities involved drivers who were 21 to 24 years old, followed by drivers between 25 and 34 (26 percent). These were the two highest percentages in the United States.

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The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Too much alcohol can influence your body. Not only can alcohol impair your judgment, but it can also cause loss of muscle control. Let’s examine how different alcohol levels can affect your body and your ability to drive.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Effects
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)Effects on Your BodyEffects on Driving
0.02Small Loss of Judgment
Body Warmth
Slow and Relaxed Reactions
Slight Change in Mood
Decline in visual function and ability to perform multiple tasks
Decline in rapid tracking movement
0.05Moderate Change in Mood
Moderate Loss of Muscle Control
Impaired Judgement
Loss of Judgment
Inability to coordinate driving and track moving objects
Difficulty steering a vehicle
0.08Reasoning and Memory Become Impaired
Further Loss of Muscle Control
Concentration is greatly impaired and information processing lowers
0.1Slurring Speech
Major Impaired Judgment
Driver can't maintain lane position and brakes inappropriately
0.15In combination with the symptoms above:
Severe Loss of Muscle Control
Loss of Balance
Severe impairment and loss of judgment
Driver won't be able to process visuals or sounds around them properly
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The legal alcohol level is 0.08. However, the justice system may come down hard if you get into an accident or worse. It’s just not safe to drink and drive.

Three Ways You Can Prevent Drunk Driving Deaths

Drunk driving is a preventable occurrence. Here are a few methods you can use to prevent drunk driving death.

Abstain from Alcohol

Don’t drink at all. Alcohol has gripped many lives, even without a vehicle involved. You can eliminate your drunk driving odds just by not drinking.

Get a Designated Driver

Find someone who can drive you when you want to go out for drinks. It’s safer to find someone you trust.

Stay Home

If you’re having a couple of drinks at home, stay there. With the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant, you have an excellent excuse to remain home and self-quarantine.

How does drunk driving affect auto insurance?

One of the worst things you can have on your driving record is a DUI. Auto insurance companies issue the highest auto insurance quotes to drivers who have a DUI on their record.

Multiple DUIs may affect your ability to find voluntary car insurance. Let’s look at the average car insurance rates based on driving records to compare clean driving records to other violations.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
CompaniesAverage Monthly Rates With a Clean RecordAverage Monthly Rates With One Speeding ViolationAverage Monthly Rates With One AccidentAverage Monthly Rates With One DUI Conviction
American Family$224$252$310$361
State Farm$235$266$283$303
Liberty Mutual$398$475$517$634
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Of course, a clean driving record produces the cheapest car insurance rates. However, DUI convictions have higher than average auto insurance rates. Any DUI rates would be considered high-risk auto insurance rates and may require an SR-22 insurance certification.

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Drunk Driving Deaths Per Year: The Bottom Line

Drunk driving car accidents happen daily. An estimated 29 people die from drunk driving per day. However, you can change that by not driving your vehicle when you want to drink. Also, don’t allow friends to drive drunk. If you see something, say something.

If you have a drunk driving question or need consultation after a DUI arrest, enter your ZIP code in the free legal finder tool below.

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