What is drunk driving?
States differ in what they call it — driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, drunk driving or impaired driving — but in every state, a baseline blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is considered an offense. For those age 21 and under, zero-tolerance laws criminalize driving with very small amounts of alcohol. States may also have enhanced penalties in place for those who drive with very high BACs, minors in the vehicle or multiple convictions.3
What are the consequences of drunk driving?
When you drink and drive, you're compromising cognitive ability and responsiveness, which increases your risk for an accident. In fact, 28 people die each day because of a drunk driving crash.4
Get caught, and a single drunk driving infraction may have legal, financial, personal and even professional ramifications.
- Forty-two states suspend your license for varying lengths of time — sometimes up to a year. Multiple convictions typically equal a revocation of a license.
- Some states require mandatory jail time — even for a first offense — as well as fees and fines.
- You may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car; if it detects alcohol, it will prevent you from operating the vehicle.
- A single drunk driving conviction may lead to job loss or restrictions (i.e., operating company vehicles).
- Higher insurance rates almost always accompany drunk driving convictions.
- If you were involved in an accident as a result of drunk driving, your insurance may deny payment for injury treatment.5
Always make good decisions and plan ahead. Here are some solutions to avoid drunk driving:
- Always choose a designated driver — every time you go out.
- If you go out alone, do not drink alcohol. Order a non-alcoholic beverage such as a soft drink or water.
- If you've been drinking, call a taxi or car-sharing service for a ride.
- Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking.