As drivers in West Virginia begin a new year, it might be a good time to revisit the costs of driving drunk. While the statistics are showing a general downward trend in recent years, it is still believed that driving while intoxicated is the most commonly committed crime in the U.S. One West Virginia police officer stated that increased awareness and law enforcement has contributed to the decline in DUI problems, but overall, the problem is still prevalent.
In 2005, 110 deaths were caused by drunk drivers in West Virginia. That number then climbed to 138 in 2007. However, the number of fatalities went back down to 112 in 2010. The number of injuries caused by DUIs has decreased dramatically; in 2005, there were 2,400 injuries as opposed to only 710 in 2010.
At the national level, the statistics can be harrowing. Around 40 percent of auto accidents that involve fatalities are caused by alcohol. A person is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every 31 minutes. Every two minutes, a person is injured in an accident involving a drunk driver. Also, car accidents are the most prevalent cause of death for people age 6 to 27. Nearly half of those crashes are alcohol-related.
The problems for young people don't stop there. Accidents involving alcohol kill 1,700 college students every year, and many of these accidents are car crashes. Alcohol also causes 600,000 injuries annually to college students. Again, many of these injuries are caused by driving under the influence.
In West Virginia, a first DUI offense can lead to a fine of $1,000, as well as six months of jail time. A third offense can lead to $5,000 in fines, three years in jail and a year-long license suspension. A person who causes an alcohol-related accident not only bears the cost of fines. Anyone that is injured in an alcohol-related accident is well within their rights to seek damages from the offending driver. It's best to just think ahead and act responsibly before ending up having to pay costly fines and damages or suffer serious injury.
Source: register-herald.com, "DUI statistics should be sobering, can be costly for drivers" Pamela Pritt, Dec. 30, 2013