Impaired Driving and Car Accidents – Statistics

August 10, 2023 | By Impact Legal Car Accident Attorneys
Impaired Driving and Car Accidents – Statistics

Drunk or impaired driving is a big and dangerous issue. Alcohol diminishes a driver's focus, coordination, ability to detect danger, reaction times, and judgment. All of this combines to make impaired drivers more likely to cause accidents. As a result, of course, driving under the influence is illegal in every state. Despite the obvious danger and laws prohibiting impaired driving, drivers still get behind the wheel after too much drinking. In this article, we'll discuss the haunting numbers associated with drunk driving accidents and other frequently asked questions about driving while under the influence. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by an impaired driver, call or text our accident lawyers today at (602) 345-1818 or fill out our online contact form to request a free consultation and case review. 

A Spike in Drunk Driving

In 2020, Arizona Department of Transportation data revealed 4,506 alcohol-related crashes. This made up about 4.5% of all accidents in the state. Among the data included 163 deadly accidents that took the lives of 181 people. The data also included 1,874 injury accidents that left 2,863 with injuries. 

While the pandemic brought less driving overall, it did not reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents. In fact, during the first year of the pandemic, we experienced the most fatal accidents involving alcohol since 2007. 

Drunk Driving Numbers By County

In 2020, Maricopa County led in the number of alcohol-related accidents with 2,834 accidents, which included over 1,700 injuries and 81 deaths. The cities in Maricopa County with the most impaired driving accidents included Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe. 

According to an analysis of a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tucson, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico rank numbers six and seven, respectively, for “Worst Cities for Drunk Driving.” The report analyzed the number of DUI arrests to come up with the worst cities for drunk driving. Tucson averaged 772 DUI arrests per 100,000 residents and 1,410 arrests annually. While Albuquerque averaged 757 DUI arrests per 100,000 residents and 1,414 arrests annually.

The Financial Implications of Drunk Driving

After an alcohol-related accident, victims may recover financial compensation from the at-fault driver. Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages may be available in these cases. 

  • Economic Damages - These are tangible damages, like medical bills, property damage, lost wages, transportation, etc.
  • Non-Economic Damages - These are more difficult to put a dollar amount on, covering things like pain and suffering, emotional trauma, depression, severe physical pain, etc.
  • Punitive Damages - These damages are awarded for the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer.

In 2017, he estimated financial loss to legal damages of alcohol-related accidents in Arizona was:

  • Fatalities: $1,856,000,000
  • Suspected serious injury: $195,200,000
  • Suspected minor injury: $106,000,000
  • Possible injury: $53,844,000
  • Property damage only: $10,076,000

In 2017, the damages in these types of crashes reached a total of at least $2,221,120,000.

The “Worst Cities for Drunk Driving” report mentioned above also tracks insurance rate increases for those convicted of driving under the influence. In Albuquerque, those convicted can expect a rate increase of 63% in insurance rates. In Tucson, those convicted can expect a jump in auto insurance rates of 43%. This isn't even calculating the fees that are associated with DUI convictions in both Arizona and New Mexico.

Read more about how a car accident claim is different when alcohol is involved here.  

Holidays Bring More Drunk-Driving Accidents

While someone can make poor decisions and get behind the wheel on any day of the year, drunk driving is particularly prevalent on holidays. The 10 deadliest holidays to drive, according to are:

  1. Easter
  2. Veteran's Day
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Halloween
  5. Mother's Day
  6. Cinco De Mayo
  7. Father's Day
  8. Independence Day
  9. Labor Day
  10. Memorial Day

Holidays and Drunk Driving: Tips to Stay Safe

Holidays can be fun and stressful – no matter the specific celebration. It's easy to get carried away and forget to plan a way home after a day full of fun holiday celebrations. However, it's critical that you make a plan. Here are some tips for staying safe while enjoying holiday fun:

  1. Don't Drink and Drive - Seriously, if you know you are going to drink, take an Uber, ask someone to drive you home, take the train, stay the night, or walk. Whatever you have to do, make sure you don't get behind the wheel to make yourself and possibly others a part of the statistics. 
  2. Plan Ahead - Make a plan to stay safe. If you're going to a party, know how you are going to get home. Choose someone to be a designated driver, make sure your Uber app is updated, call your parents, siblings, friends, or spouse to drive you home. Don't get to the end of the night and realize you're several drinks in with no idea how you're getting home.  
  3. Wear Your Seatbelt - Seatbelts really do save lives. You aren't the only one to worry about during the holiday season. Hopefully, you choose to not drink and drive, but statistics show some people do not make that choice. Buckle up to give yourself some added protection in case you need it.
  4. Be a Good Host - If you're hosting a party, be cognizant of your guests' safety. Have food at the party, so your guests aren't drinking on empty stomachs. Make sure you know their plans to get home. Consider assigning a bartender who can keep track of the level of drinks consumed. Don't be afraid to say “no” if someone has had too much to drink – take their keys and call them an Uber or friend. The person may be angry, but doing so could save their life.  
  5. Handle Your Stress in Healthy Ways - Don't mask the stress with alcohol. While drinking in moderation to celebrate with friends and family is perfectly fine, drinking in excess to deal with stress only leads to bad decisions and regret. Try going for a run, going on an after-dinner stroll, taking the kids to the park, or taking a moment to yourself to do something you enjoy amid the craziness.  

If You're in an Accident, Call an Accident Lawyer

If you've been hurt in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation to help you recover from your losses. To find out more, call or text our accident lawyers at (602) 345-1818 or fill out our convenient and secure online contact form here, and we will reach out to you to schedule your free consultation and case review. 

The information on our blog and website is for general informational purposes only, and it is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advice about your unique situation, call or text our car accident lawyers today. 

We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.