Driving Under the Influence (DUI) - Frequently Asked Questions, General


How serious is the problem?

Drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime in the United States. In 2011, approximately 1.2 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Every day in America, 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.

It is estimated that alcohol and other drugs are a factor in 31 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2012.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012, 33,561 people were killed on our nation's highways; 10,322 of these fatalities were alcohol-related. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the past 10 years have declined by 21 percent from 13,096 in 2003 to 10,322 in 2012.

About 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives. It is estimated that one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 51 minutes in 2012.

Beyond the tragedy of lost lives and painful recovery from injuries, alcohol-related accidents exact a huge economic cost. In 2006, the financial costs associated with alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. were estimated at $51 billion annually.

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How does the DUI problem impact young people?

The alcohol-related traffic fatality rate for youth has been cut by over half since 1988. However, youth are still over-represented in fatal crashes compared to the older population. In 2007, 20 percent of the children under age 14 killed in crashes were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

Trends indicate:

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities fell by 3.7 percent, from 13,491 in 2006 to 12,998 in 2007.
The percentage of alcohol-related fatalities has declined from 60 percent in 1982 to 41 percent in 2006.

California demonstrated the largest decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities among the states; from 1,272 in 2006 to 1,155 in 2007.

What are the penalties for DUI?

  • Fines/Penalties—approximately $300 - $5,000
  • Jail/Community Service—2 days to 2 years
  • DUI Treatment Program—3, 6, 9, 18, or 30 months
  • Drivers License Suspension—4 months to 5 years


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How much does a DUI Cost?

Costs for DUI have been estimated to be more than $6,600 (actual costs may vary). Here is a conservative itemized breakdown for a first DUI offense:

  • Fines/Penalties—$1,000
  • Tow/Impound Fee—215
  • DUI Treatment Program—626
  • Court Costs—800
  • Insurance Increase—500-1,500
  • Attorney Fees—2,500
  • Total Approximate Cost:—$6,641


What is blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?

Blood Alcohol Concentration is a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood stream expressed as a percentage. In 2005, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had established the illegal BAC level at .08 percent

Is it safe to drive after drinking modest amounts of alcohol?

Just a drink or two can make someone behind the wheel a threat to themselves and to others. Drinking alcohol affects a driver's coordination, reaction time, and vision (particularly at night). Long before any outward signs of impairment are recognized, the driver's judgment, emotions, and confidence are adversely effected. Even at a BAC as low as .02 percent, alcohol affects driving ability and crash likelihood. The probability of crash begins to increase significantly at .05 percent BAC and climbs rapidly after about .08 percent BAC.

The speed of alcohol absorption affects the rate at which one becomes drunk. Unlike foods, alcohol does not have to be slowly digested. As a person drinks faster than the alcohol can be eliminated, the drug accumulates in the body, resulting in higher and higher levels of alcohol in the blood.

The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. Only time will sober a person up. Drinking strong coffee, exercising or taking a cold shower will not help in sobering up.

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What is "Admin per se"?

"Admin per se" refers to a relatively new procedure, administrative license suspension, in which a driver's license may be taken before conviction when a driver fails or refuses to take a chemical test for alcohol. As of 2007, 41 states including Washington, D.C. had administrative license suspension laws. In California a driver's license is suspended for four months on a first offense, and one year for a second offense.

When do most DUIs occur?

In 2011, the rate of alochol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was 4.5 times higher at night than during the day.  Additionally, 15 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent on weekends.

Who is at risk?

In fatal crashes in 2011 the highest percentage of drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (32 percent).  The proportion of drivers involved in fatal crashes with a BAC of .08 or higher was 24 percent among males and 14 percent among females.



Last modified date: 7/25/2019 4:11 PM