Getting behind the wheel after drinking sounds easy to resist. At the moment, though, you may make excuses for driving, such as not wanting to pay for an Uber or taxi, not having another way to get home or not needing to drive far. These decisions are bolstered by the false confidence of alcohol or drug use and the feeling of invincibility. 

It can be tempting to drive after substance use, but no excuse is good enough. Driving while intoxicated, even if you’re barely buzzed and the ride is short, is a single decision that could affect you and many others for the rest of your life.

Drinking and driving is a public health concern. In this article we’ll look at the numbers behind this devastating reality and the DUI and DWI statistics you’ll want to know to stay safe and stay sober.

The risks of drinking and driving

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense. Not only can it result in serious legal, financial, personal and emotional consequences for yourself, but the risks of driving intoxicated can affect others too, even resulting in loss of life.

Loss of life

Perhaps the most serious repercussion of impaired driving is the loss of life it causes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated drivers in 2020. This averages out to about one death every 45 minutes and makes up 30 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the United States.


In addition to fatalities and injuries sustained from intoxicated-driver-related crashes, there is also a high financial expense for drinking and driving. According to the CDC, the yearly cost associated with impaired driving crashes totals around 123 billion dollars.

Looking at the large-scale drinking and driving statistics may not be convincing. Applying it to your own life though demonstrates a high fee to pay for intoxicated driving. Court fees, fines, vehicle damage, lawyer fees and more can end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. According to Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler and Thomas, some fines can cost as much as $4,000.

Emotional toll

Being charged with a DUI or DWI can be an emotional experience, most particularly when someone else was injured. It’s common to feel guilt and shame, frustration, sorrow or anxiety following a charge for impaired driving.

You may find it hard to forgive yourself for hurting someone, be resentful of the people you were around who let you drive or have a fear of being in a car again. If you lose your job due to a DWI charge, you may feel that you let down your family. 

Personal issues

A DUI or DWI can also result in a host of personal concerns. You may be unable to drive to work due to a revoked license, resulting in the loss of your job. The car you drive may have been totaled, resulting in a huge financial strain. You may have suffered injuries as a result of an accident and need medical treatment.

DUI and DWI laws in North Carolina

It’s first important to clarify the difference between a DUI and DWI. DUI stands for driving under the influence and is generally a smaller offense than a DWI. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated and indicates that a driver was over the legal limit of alcohol. In North Carolina, all impaired driving is charged under DWI regardless of the substance of intoxication.

According to Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh Attorneys at Law, there are six levels of misdemeanor charges for a DWI in North Carolina. They are labeled 1A, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 with 1A being the most serious and 5 being the least. 

A prior conviction, driving with a revoked license, causing injury to another, driving with a child in the car, a high blood alcohol concentration or speeding will factor into the level of a misdemeanor for a DWI.

DUI and DWI statistics

According to, in 2019 there were 323 total alcohol-related driving fatalities in North Carolina. There were 11,639 arrests due to driving under the influence in the same year. 

Drinking and driving are preventable. If you’re struggling with a substance use addiction, don’t wait to get treatment. Protect yourself, your loved ones and others on the road and get started with treatment. Don’t wait another day and contact October Road.

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