There are an average of 29 deaths per day caused by drunk drivers in the United States – that’s about one every 50 minutes.
More than one million people per year are arrested for breaking Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws in the States, and each state has its own ways of handling its offenders, with varying jail sentences and fines as it aims to reduce the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers.
Close to 11,000 people are killed by drunk drivers each year. In 2017, California topped the list of impaired driving-related deaths at 1,120 fatalities caused by drinking and driving in that state alone.
7. California – 1120
It’s no surprise the most populated state also has the highest number of deaths caused by drunk driving. In California, state officials take the issue seriously and depending on the level of offense its punishment can be severe.
A misdemeanor DUI vehicular manslaughter will result in up to one year in jail and about $1,000 in fines, as well as license suspension. A felony DUI vehicular manslaughter charge (determined by the level of negligence) could mean 16 months, two years, or four years in prison with an additional three to six years if other victims were also seriously injured, as well as up to $10,000 in fines.
Gross DUI vehicular manslaughter could be four, six, or 10 years in a state prison, or 15 years to life if there are any prior vehicular manslaughter convictions or two or more DUI convictions on record, and up to $10,000 in fines.
If someone has a DUI on record and was given what’s known as a “Watson advisement,” or a warning that DUI can cause death, then he or she can be charged with DUI murder and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, as well as a fine up to $10,000.
- About one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver.
- Almost 2% of Americans admit to getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
- After a car crash that resulted in serious injuries, a Polish man’s blood alcohol level was measured at 1.480%. That’s the highest BAC ever recorded in known history.
6. Florida – 839
Drunk drivers who cause a fatal crash in the Sunshune State could be charged with DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony punishable with a fine up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.
However, the crime become first-degree DUI manslaughter in a hit-and-run situation and though the fine maximum is the same, this charge could result in up to 30 years in prison.
5. North Carolina – 413
In North Carolina, felony death-by-vehicle is unintentionally killing someone while violating the states Driving While Impaired (DWI) laws. The offense is considered a class D felony and if convicted a driver could face 38 to 160 months in prison as well as fines.
However, if a driver has a previous DWI conviction and kills someone while drunk behind the wheel, it is considered aggravated felony death-by-vehicle and punishable with 64 to 160 months in prison.
All offenders in North Carolina have their licenses revoked for at least 12 months.
4. Georgia – 366
The Peach State will charge drunk drivers causing death with vehicular homicide, one of the most serious felonies in Georgia law.
Being convicted of felony-grade vehicular homicide could mean between three and 15 years in prison and a permanent smear on the driver’s criminal record. If the motorist is a previous offender or has a suspended license, the sentence could be bumped to between five and 20 years.
3. Illinois – 349
Causing a fatal accident while impaired in Illinois carries varying levels of punishment depending on the severity of the crash.
If there was one death, imprisonment could be three to 14 years with a fine up to $25,000. In a case with multiple deaths, the punishment could be six to 28 years in prison in addition to up to $25,000 in fines.
2. Ohio – 333
The State of Ohio views drunk driving causing death as vehicular homicide, which is a second-degree felony.
Being convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide comes with potential prison terms of two to eight years and a mandatory lifetime license suspension. But, if there is any prior conviction for vehicular homicide or assault or the license was suspended at the time of the crash, the sentence could be between 11 and 15 years.
1. Pennsylvania – 314
If a driver is found guilty of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, the penalty could be up to 10 years in prison. As in Illinois, the punishment could worsen for multiple deaths, with a mandatory three years in prison for every fatality caused by impaired driving.
States With The Highest Rating Of Deaths Due To Drunk Driving
|Rank||States||Total Alcohol-Impaired Driving Deaths in 2017|
|51||District of Columbia||16|