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U.S. drunk driving rate hits new low

Texas motorists may find it interesting to learn that the U.S. drunk driving rate fell to a 13-year low in 2014, according to statistics released by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Meanwhile, the number of people driving while under the influence of drugs also dipped slightly.

The survey found that 11.1 percent of American drivers told federal interviewers they had driven while drunk over the past 12 months. Another 4.1 percent said they had driven while under the influence of drugs, while 2.4 percent admitted they had gotten behind the wheel while under the influence of both drugs and alcohol. There is some give in the survey numbers, as they are self-reported. Some of the participants may have different concepts for what constitutes "impairment" or be reluctant to admit potentially illegal behavior. However, the survey has been conducted using the same methodology since 2002, so it is reasonable to believe that it is a fairly accurate measure of trends. In 2002, 15.3 percent of U.S. drivers said they drove while drunk, 5 percent said they drove under the influence of illicit drugs and 3.3 percent said they drove after consuming both.

Safety experts say they are pleased the drunk driving rate continues to decline, but they point out more work must be done. For instance, there were 10,265 traffic fatalities in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's around 300 more than in 2014.

Drunk driving convictions can carry severe consequences, including prison time and fines. However, all individuals charged with DWI have the right to fight the allegations in court. It may be possible to get charges reduced or dismissed with the help of a criminal defense attorney.

Source: NOLA, "Drunk driving rate falls to new low in U.S.", Dec. 30, 2016

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