October 30, 2007
Alcohol is a major factor in traffic accidents. According to U.S Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projections, there is an alcohol-related traffic fatality every 29 minutes.
Alcohol-related crashes are defined as those where someone involved, either a driver or a pedestrian or another non-occupant, had a traceable amount of alcohol in his or her blood. According to NHTSA projections, 17,941 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2006, the highest level since 1992 and up 2.4 percent from 17,525 in 2005. Alcohol was involved in 41 percent of all crash fatalities in 2006.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2004 (latest data available). The arrest rate works out to one arrest for every 139 licensed drivers in the United States.
The definition of drunk driving is consistent throughout the United States. Every state and the District of Columbia defines impairment as driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) at or above 0.08. In addition, they all have zero tolerance laws prohibiting drivers under the age of 21 from drinking and driving. Generally the BAC in these cases is 0.02.
Anti-drunk driving campaigns especially target drivers under the age of 21, repeat offenders and 21 to 34 year olds, the age group that is responsible for more alcohol-related fatal crashes than any other. Young drivers are those least responsive to arguments against drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To make sellers and servers of liquor more careful about to whom and how they serve drinks, 43 states and the District of Columbia hold liquor servers legally liable for the damage and injuries a drunk driver causes.