Mothers Against Drunk Driving recently claimed that the majority of drunk driving deaths and injuries are caused by first-time DUI offenders with no past criminal record for intoxicated driving. A careful look at the statistics by Politifact show that this statement is mostly true. Unfortunately, this means that even a person who has no criminal history of driving drunk can be a menace on the roads.
Understanding which DUI offenders are most likely to become involved in a fatal collision is important because it allows safety officials to more carefully target campaigns to prevent impaired driving. Knowing that most deaths occur in accidents with first-time offenders can also influence lawmakers when making laws and imposing drunk-driving penalties.
The important thing for every driver to remember is that it only takes one incident of getting behind the wheel to potentially take a life. Taking the chance of driving drunk is never worth the risk of a lifetime of guilt, a lawsuit by a victim or his family members, or a criminal conviction. Those who are hurt by drunken drivers can consult with an experienced injury attorney in Boston to learn how to hold the impaired motorist accountable for damages.
First Time Offenders and Drunk Driving Accidents
Politifact looked at several different studies to address the truth of the statement that most fatal drunk-driving accidents were caused by first-time offenders.
According to a study conducted from 1991 to 2001 in Wisconsin, three out of every four drivers involved in a serious or fatal car accident after drinking did not have a prior conviction for driving while impaired.
This is an older study, however, and there were several issues with the results. First, driver records were not always complete during some of the earlier years of the study. Second, only convictions after 1989 were counted as “prior” convictions under the laws at this time. Third, the statistics were focused on all drivers who had been drinking before an accident, which is a broader category than drivers who are officially impaired since it is possible to have alcohol in your system without being over the legal limit.
Other more recent evidence also supports the claim made by MADD that most fatalities are caused by first time DUI offenders. For example, the Century Council cited 2012 federal government data showing that 87 percent of fatal drunk driving crashes in Wisconsin involved a driver that did not have a prior conviction for driving drunk while 11 percent of fatal crashes involved a driver who had a prior conviction for impaired driving in the prior three years.
Throughout the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has indicated that 93 percent of drivers who were at or above the legal limit at the time they were involved in a fatal accident had not had a drunken driving conviction in the prior three years.
Based on all of this different data, it is clear that drivers who have no record but who choose to drive drunk are causing the majority of deadly collisions. Preventing these first-time offenders from driving drunk could go a long way towards saving lives.
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More Blog Entries:
Officer Accused of Drunk Driving with Child in Vehicle, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, January 5, 2014