DWI – Driving While Intoxicated

Pie chart, showing the ratio of 10,228 alcohol-impaired driving deaths versus 22,657 other driving deaths in 2014. Alcohol-involved crashes kill over 11,000 people every year, accounting for fully one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The DWI problem is huge: according to the CDC, there are 147 million self-reported episodes of driving while impaired each year in the US.

The statistics are even bleaker among young people. College-aged students (21-24) are more likely to be involved in a fatal alcohol-related crash than any other age group.

The consequences of driving while intoxicated are incredibly serious: there are the obvious threats to your own personal safety and those of nearby drivers and pedestrians. There are financial consequences, and there are criminal consequences. Sentencing can range from payment of fines to 7 years in jail.

To reduce the occurrence of DWI, the CDC recommends enforcement of the existing alcohol laws, and advocates for policy changes (such as reducing the illegal BAC limit to 0.05%) to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic casualties. But when you’re making weekend plans, you’re not likely to be thinking about policy debates, you’re worried about coordinating with friends and picking a bar or party to go to.

However, you can take into consideration some simple safety plans that keep you and your friends safe throughout the evening:

  • Choose a designated driver before the alcohol starts flowing.
  • Don’t let your friends drive impaired. Take their keys away.
  • If you have been drinking, call a cab or get a ride home with a sober friend.
  • If you are hosting a party, serve non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers.