How Likely Is a Drunken Driver to Be Caught?

Each day, almost 300,000 drunk drivers take to the roads in the US and on average, just over 3,500 are arrested for driving under the influence, according to 2012 FBI statistics. So, a drunken driver has less than a 1.5% chance of being caught. On average, a drunk driver will drive under the influence about 80 times before their first arrest.

While only one out of every 2,000 drivers is likely to be intoxicated on American roads, that small proportion accounts for almost one out of every three traffic deaths each year. That adds up to about 27 people killed per day because of drunk driving.

Deaths caused by drunk drivers have been lowered in the last three decades by about 50% after a concerted effort by organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to bring awareness to the issue and by law enforcement to catch and convict offenders. However, even when drunk drivers are caught, they are likely to continue driving, even with a suspended license.

More on drunk driving:

  • Alcohol is believed to cause up to 100,000 deaths per year, including accidents, overdose and health-related deaths.

  • The leading cause of boating accidents in the US from 2003 to 2012 was alcohol use.

  • In 1907, Massachusetts was the first state to adopt laws prohibiting driving while intoxicated.

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