Almost every state has a limit on how much alcohol a driver can have in his or her system. Typically, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is measured in grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. When a driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit, he or she is considered to be intoxicated. This is called “driving under the influence,” or DUI. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit in most states.
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However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drivers with a BAC of at least 0.08 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than those with a BAC of a legal level. This is because the amount of alcohol a person consumes is directly related to their body weight in grams. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and your BAC is 0.08, you will have a blood alcohol concentration of 20 grams. This means that you are about eight times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone who weighs 210 pounds and has a BAC of a legal level of 0.08.
Drunk driving is one of the top killers in the United States. It causes 310 funerals each week. The rate of alcohol-related fatalities has declined by about one-third in the last three decades, but there are still more than 100,000 people who die each year from drinking and driving. It is estimated that more than 1 million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence each year.
Nearly one-third of all drivers who were arrested for a DUI in the past five years were young adults, with the majority being aged between 21 and 34. While the number of people under the age of 21 who died in alcohol-related crashes has declined, the numbers were higher for those who were 55 or older.
During the past decade, the rate of alcohol-related fatalities for drivers under the age of 21 decreased by approximately 70 percent. It is estimated that the number of young people who died in alcohol-related crashes in the United States has dropped from 5,215 to 980. As a result, this age group is responsible for 9% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S.
Another alarming statistic is that more than 800 people are injured in alcohol-related crashes each day. This is because one in every 50 minutes in the United States involves a drunk driver. In the state of New York, a drunk driver is responsible for causing two injuries every two minutes. The average cost of a drunk driving crash is estimated to be around $44 billion.
The NHTSA tracks traffic deaths and the percentage of drunk driving-related deaths. In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 10,288 traffic fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver. This year, the highest percentage of fatalities occurred in North Dakota. The total traffic fatalities in this state were relatively low compared to other states, but the percentage of drunk driving fatalities was the highest in the country.
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