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Drunk Driving Definitions and Statistics

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Drunk drivingDrunk driving. Before we can properly discuss it, we need to define it. provides the following legal definitions for DUI and DWAI (BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration):

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI):

A DUI is the more serious offense of the two and has consequences that are extremely costly both to your wallet and to your diving privileges, and could potentially result in serious jail time. In July 2004, Colorado inched down the DUI BAC limit from .10% to .08%.

Driving While Ability Is Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs (DWAI):

This may be the lesser of the two offenses defined as a BAC between .05% and .07%, but the fines and penalties are just as hefty.

The fines and penalties are one thing. A severe, or even deadly, car accident at the hands of a drunk driver is another.

Unfortunately, this is hardly a new problem. As a matter of fact, a massive national crackdown roughly a generation ago had improved things to this point. Scary thought, isn’t it?

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers for the year 2009 right here in Colorado:

  • There were 158 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the state, 17 of which were under the age of 21.
  • There were 27,043 DUI’s that year.
  • 69% of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities involved repeat offenders with a BAC of .15+

That last stat is the most chilling. More than two-thirds of DUI-related fatalities involve hard-drinking repeat offenders. Kevin Vaughan and David Olinger, writers for The Denver Post, reported on that particular problem:

But people with multiple drunken-driving arrests in Colorado aren’t unusual, according to criminal justice records, court files and extensive data compiled at the request of The Post by both the State Court Administrator’s Office and the state’s Division of Behavioral Health:

• From 2005 to 2007, an average of 31,011 alleged drunken drivers were arrested each year in Colorado, according to statistics compiled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

• During that same three-year span, an average of 10,835 drunken drivers each year had at least one prior DUI arrest, according to Division of Behavioral Health data from probation-department evaluations of drivers facing DUI charges.

• Among that group were 5,679 Colorado drivers arrested over the three years for drunken driving who had at least three prior offenses, 84 who had been stopped for driving drunk at least 10 times, and five with more than 20 prior cases.

Image by By Mike “Dakinewavamon” Kline, used under its Creative Commons license.


2 Responses to “Drunk Driving Definitions and Statistics”


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Sally from Denver, Colorado

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