cocktail and car keys

Driving Under Influence Declines: Numbers Still Troubling

The good news is that driving under the influence of alcohol appears to be on the decline in the United States, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA).

The bad news is that in 2014 — the most recent year included in the report — millions of people still drove drunk according to their own admission. The numbers suggest that while preventative efforts may be having some positive effect, much more needs to be done to keep drunk drivers off the nation’s roadways.

Progress, but not enough

The latest report was issued by SAMSHA on December 28, 2016. The organization looked at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) involving people that reported driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs between 2002 and 2014. The report is broken down by age group, gender and whether the driver used drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two before getting behind the wheel. Despite the positive news from the report, the high number of people driving under the influence cannot be ignored.

“Although it is heartening to see a downward trend in levels of driving under the influence of alcohol, it still kills thousands of people each year and shatters the lives of friends and loved ones left behind,” Frances Harding, director of SAMSHA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, stated on the organization’s website. “We must strive to save lives by reducing this public health threat through education, prevention and all other possible measures.”

The report found that one of the greatest declines was among drivers 21-25 years old. In 2002, the rate of drivers in this age range driving under the influence was 29.9 percent. By 2014, that number had dropped to 18.9 percent. The overall rates for all drivers age 16 and over decreased from 15.3 percent in 2002 to 11.1 percent in 2014.

Alcohol and drugs a serious problem

A total of 27.7 million people age 16 and over admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014. Another 10.1 million, or 4.1 percent of all drivers in this age range, drove under the influence of illicit substances during the same year. There were also 5.9 million, or 2.5 percent, that admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and illicit substances at the same time. Men were more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs and a combination of the two across every age range.

Driving under the influence of any type of substance has been called a major public health risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2014 involved alcohol impairment. Those accidents took the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans in total. While more than 1.1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of a substance, that number only made up about one percent of all of the drivers that admitted getting behind the wheel with alcohol impairment.

The Sanders Law Firm is encouraged by these recent statistics, as they demonstrate progress in the right direction. However, with millions continuing to drive under the influence every year, the risk of your involvement in one of these accidents is still significant. If you or someone you love is injured because of a drunk driver, it is imperative that you enlist professional legal help to protect your rights to fair compensation.

For a free case evaluation with personal injury lawyers who have a proven track record of success, please call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.

Additional DUI accident resources:

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, The Rate of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol has Steadily Declined from 2002-2014,
  2. SAMSHA, The CBHSQ Report,
  3. MADD, Statistics,
  4. CDC, Impaired Driving: Get the Facts,