4 million Americans drive drunk each month

4 million Americans drive drunk each month

About 4.2 million adults reported drinking and driving at least once within the last month, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drunk driving was found to be most prevalent among men, particularly younger men, according to the data from a 2012 survey. Eight in 10 of the respondents who admitted to drunk driving were men, and those between 21 and 34 years old made up the largest percentage.

Additionally, 85 percent of men and women who had gotten behind the wheel after drinking also reported binge drinking prior to driving. Also, 4 percent of those who admitted to binge drinking said they did that four times in the last month, accounting for 61 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes. Binge drinking is the consumption of five or more drinks in one occasion for men or four or more drinks for women.

“Alcohol impairs our ability to react to changes and make the quick decisions we need to make when behind the wheel,” says Dr. Patricia Lee, chair of emergency medicine at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Even a little bit of alcohol in your system can affect your ability to drive safely.”

About 32 percent of fatal car accidents involve a drunk driver, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

The CDC study also found that people who said they did not always wear a seat belt when in a car were three times more likely to drink and drive than those who said they always wear a seat belt.

“There is no reason drunk driving should be so prevalent,” Dr. Lee says. “There are several organizations and services out there that will drive you home if you or your designated driver have too much to drink.”

She recommends visiting the National Directory of Designated Driver Services before a night out. Smartphone apps like ‘Team Lift’ or ‘Scooter,’ make it even easier to get you and your car home without going behind the wheel after drinking.

“When in doubt, use a designated driver, call a cab or a ride-sharing service, or make other arrangements,” says Dr. Lee. “It’s the safest choice for you, your passengers and others on the road.”


Related Posts



  1. This is NUTS! We need to do more to stop driving under the influence!

  2. One word……..UBER!!!

  3. State and Federal Congressman should be lobbied to have breathalizers standard in all vehicles.

  4. Drunk High distracted Tired Eating On phone God knows what else l

  5. Important to not drink and drive, but I thought I would provide some context so people aren’t freaking out too badly.
    Using 2013 United States Census data there were around 242753607 adults of drinking age. 4000000 drive under the influence every month. That’s about 1.647% of the total population as a whole. Not too shabby. According to the CDC there were 10076 deaths related to alcohol related car accidents in 2013. Rounding here, but that’s about 840 deaths each month (I am aware some months are worse than others). If we assume the worst and 1 drunk driver is causing each individual death, that means that .021% of those driving under the influence are causing the accident related deaths. For so many people driving under the influence, they are driving surprisingly well numbers wise. The number is probably higher if you include all accidents which don’t have any deaths, but with these values we could double or triple the number and we wouldn’t even be scratching at .1% yet.
    And here is the real problem, for most that drink and drive nothing bad ever happens. They get home just fine and everyone else gets home safe as well. There is a disconnect between the personal tragedies families pay when their loved one is involved in an accident, and the vast vast majority of other peoples lived experience telling them they and everyone else around them are going to be ok. Since this disconnect is so massive, I really don’t think any honest poll is ever really going to improve. The rates haven’t changed much recently so something new has to happen in order to bring these numbers even lower. Tougher fines and penalties I think are a terrible solution because people are already facing those and a percentage of the population just won’t care because of their lived experience. Having a breathalyzer in every car and a clean blow is required to start the car seems like a great idea and would definitely stop those from driving home by themselves, but if you can get a friend or child to blow then its easily cheatable. Honestly, it can’t hurt though. The solution of placing one device in every car driven in the United States may cost a little up front, but at least all of our family and friends will be sharing more birthdays together instead of funerals.

  6. Unfortunately none of us will escape death. We are not guaranteed to live until we are 80 90 or 100. People want to blame though; Drinking, Guns, Murders, Diseases, War, Accidents, and we won’t know Why until we meet our Maker. It is a tragedy to drive when drinking, there are so many other alternatives. It not only affects the victims, but the driver and their families too. Let me make a statement, The State Of Illinois has just lifted the ban on “Happy Hour”, which they took away a few years ago. Then last week I read in my hometown paper that DUI’s are down, so they are “Beefing up patrols to catch more in the act”. Isn’t that ironic! It seems to me they are looking to fill the gaps of this broke state. They aren’t looking for solutions they want the revenue, especially in small town america where they don’t have alot going on. They don’t care about us just the money.

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.