It's no surprise that being charged with, or worse, convicted of drunk driving in Alabama will impact your life going forward. As a Birmingham-based DUI defense lawyer, I have seen the statistics for people arrested for driving while intoxicated arrests, as well as charged with fatal DUI-related crashes. Everyone makes mistakes, but for most people these errors in judgment don't result in death or serious injury. Whether you live in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa or Mobile, the latest traffic safety data out of the U.S. government illustrates the number of people affected by drunk driving and the trend.
According to news articles, more than 11,000 people across the nation dies in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2008. While any deaths from drunk driving are unacceptable, the better news is that the percentage of fatal DUI crashes was down by nearly 10 percent from the previous year — more than 13,000 in 2007.
Then we swing back to the bad news, which is that 32 percent of all fatal auto accidents are a result of drinking and driving. In fact, 2008 reportedly was the third year in a row where alcohol-related deaths exceeded 30 percent of all fatal traffic accidents.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1.5 million motorists were arrested by law enforcement officers in 2008 for driving under the influence of alcohol or drug DUI. At that time, the suspect could have been given a field sobriety test followed by a breathalyzer test to determine blood-alcohol content (BAC).
To make things worse, an alarming trend may be in the offing. According to various reports, drunk driving among female drivers apparently rose between 2007 and 2008. Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as the overall number of drunk driving arrests fell across the country, the amount of women involved in fatal DUI-related crashes increased in 10 states and remained steady on five others.
Finally, the NHTSA's drunk driving statistics showed that the number of people aged 16 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes involving a drunk automobile operator or motorcycle rider rose nearly four percent in 2006 compared with 2005 (the latest data available). In the 21- to 34-year-old age group, total drunk driving fatalities rose 0.7 percent for the same period. Fatalities for all other age groups dropped during the 2005-2006 time period.
Inside Insurance: Drunk drivers on land, in the air and on the water, TimesFreePress.com, November 13, 2009