Utilizing data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the NHTSA reported that alcohol-involved traffic accidents accounted for 30% of total traffic accidents in the U.S. and resulted in 11,654 fatalities (this is approximately one death every 45 minutes).
Impaired Driving Statistics by Varying Factors
The NHTSA reported the following alcohol-involved traffic accident statistics based on driver demographics:
- Gender: Males are four times more likely than females to be involved in alcohol-involved traffic accidents.
- Age: 21- to 34-year-olds accounted for 52% of all alcohol-involved traffic accidents.
- Vehicle Type: Motorcyclists were involved in 27% of all fatal alcohol-involved traffic accidents, passenger vehicles in 23%, light trucks in 19%, and large trucks in 3%, respectively.
- BAC Level: 67% of all fatal alcohol-involved traffic accidents had at least one individual with a BAC over 0.15%.
The NHTSA reported the following alcohol-involved traffic accident statistics based on different time periods:
- Time of Day: Nighttime alcohol-involved traffic accidents were three times more likely than daytime ones.
- Time of Year: Alcohol-involved traffic accidents spike from mid-summer to mid-fall (June through October) and reach a low point from the end of winter to the end of spring (January to April).
- Holidays: Alcohol-involved traffic accidents consistently spike every year around the holidays.
What Counts as Impaired Driving?
Impaired driving definitions and laws vary state-to-state. In Texas, impaired driving is driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and falls under driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits
The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits to be considered “legally intoxicated” in Texas vary depending on the driver's age and the type of vehicle being operated. The following BAC levels and higher are considered illegal:
- 0% when the driver is under 21 years of age.
- 0.04% when driving a commercial motor vehicle.
- 0.08% when driving a passenger vehicle, boat, or flying.
Alcohol Effects at Different BACs
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the typical effects of alcohol on the body and driving ability at the following BAC levels:
- At 0.02%, drivers experience a decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target) and the ability to perform two tasks simultaneously (divided attention).
- At 0.05%, drivers experience reduced coordination, ability to track moving objects, response to emergency driving situations, and difficulty steering.
- At 0.08%, drivers experience concentration issues, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), and impaired perception.
- At 0.10%, drivers experience a clear deterioration of reaction time and control and have a reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
- At 0.15%, drivers experience far less muscle control than normal and substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving tasks, and necessary visual and auditory information processing.
In Texas, driving while under the influence of any drug, illicit or otherwise, is illegal.
Determining Driver Impairment
The following tests are commonly used to determine the sobriety of drivers in Texas:
- Standardized Field Sobriety Tests include the one-leg stand test, the walk-and-turn test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.
- A Breathalyzer Test or Breath Test Sample measures BAC levels in the air you breathe.
- A Blood BAC Test measures the BAC levels directly in your blood.
Should I Refuse Sobriety Tests?
Blood BAC Tests are typically regarded as the most definitive sobriety tests free of officer bias (which may be present in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests) and false-positive results (an unfortunate but common occurrence with breathalyzers).
For this reason, it is typically best practice to refuse both Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and breathalyzers and to consent to complete a Blood BAC Test.
Staying Safe on the Road This Holiday Season
Substance consumption and traffic accidents increase yearly during the holidays as people are more likely to be out and about and celebrate. Here are three tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season:
- Plan ahead. If you are going to an event or place where alcohol will be served, and you plan to drink, make sure you either go with a designated driver or use rideshare apps to get you to and from your destination safely.
- Watch out for your friends and family. If you see someone that has been drinking leaving and planning on driving, make sure you take their keys and help them with a plan to get home safely. While this individual may not be appreciative of your actions at the moment, facing someone’s irritation or anger is better than knowing that they or someone else could get injured or killed due to their actions.
- Always wear your seat belt. You can only control your actions. If an impaired driver is on the road, practicing defensive driving and wearing your seat belt is your best protection against harm.
Texas Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one are injured in a motor vehicle accident, having an experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the legal process. At Jeff Chandler Law, we have almost 20 years of legal experience handling car accident cases. When you hire our firm, your case will become a top priority. Preparation is key to a successful injury claim. We work closely with our clients to ensure that we have the documentation and opinions to support our fight for just compensation.