Although law enforcement has clamped down on driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania and across the country, drunk driving continues to be a major problem on roadways today. DUI-related accidents cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities throughout the state every year.
We’ve compiled some of the most recent drunk driving statistics for the state of Pennsylvania below – we also included some national data for comparison. Considering these facts and figures can give some perspective on the dangers of driving while intoxicated in Pennsylvania and why it is best to avoid it.
Alcohol-Related Car Crashes in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) releases annual reports regarding crash statistics. According to the report for 2020, an estimated 7,700 crashes involved alcohol, with about 6,565 related to a drunk driver. Of these accidents:
- 3,701 resulted in injuries (about 4,917 injuries reported)
- 3,729 only resulted in property damage
These numbers are down from the previous year, which saw 9,380 total alcohol-related crashes—continuing a general downward trend over the last five years. The following data trends from 2020 are also worth noting:
- Roughly 21 alcohol-related collisions happened each day in Pennsylvania, on average.
- The majority of these collisions occurred at night, with most happening between 8 and 4 A.M.
- Most holiday-related accidents in this category happened in the days leading up to and after Thanksgiving and Independence Day (as opposed to New Year’s, which saw the least).
- Most of these collisions involved drunk drivers between 21 and 30 years old.
Many DUI Accidents Involve Underage Drivers
Like all states, Pennsylvania enforces underage drinking laws that prohibit minors from purchasing and consuming alcohol before turning 21. However, DUI statistics show that underage drivers cause a significant number of accidents. In 2020, the number was 441, up from the previous year after a steady decline from 2016.
DUI Accidents Are Often Deadly
Drunk driving collisions are some of the deadliest types of traffic accidents. While they made up 7 percent of all crashes in Pennsylvania during 2020, they accounted for 26 percent of traffic fatalities. The data shows:
- 293 alcohol-related deaths
- 131 fatal accidents involving a drunk driver
- An average of 0.8 deaths per day from alcohol-related car accidents
For comparison, DUI collisions kill over 10,000 people annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This number translates to about 30 deaths every day in the United States because of intoxicated drivers—a person dies in a drunk driving-related accident about every 51 minutes.
PA Statistics for Drunk Driver and Passenger Deaths
PennDOT’s data further shows that the majority of fatalities occurred in the drunk driver’s vehicle:
- Drunk drivers and their passengers combined made up 89 percent of deaths.
- Drunk drivers alone made up 75 percent of deaths.
This statistic highlights the importance of not getting into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.
Fatalities caused by drunk drivers account for about one-third of all roadway deaths in the United States each year. Of children killed in alcohol-related car crashes, about 50 percent were in the same automobile as the impaired driver.
Drunk Driving Arrests in Pennsylvania
In 2018, PennDOT reported 49,730 DUI arrests. While this number has been trending downward, the state has seen an increase in drug-impaired driving, with 33,712 charges that same year.
Meanwhile, approximately 1.3 million motorists are arrested annually for driving under the influence in the United States – this compares with 121 million self-reports of driving intoxicated during the same timeframe. In other words, the number of impaired drivers actually arrested is a very small portion of the total.
According to a 2018 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.8 percent of participants from Pennsylvania had driven drunk in the past 30 days. This statistic was slightly above the U.S. average at that time, which was 1.7 percent.
The Financial Costs of Drunk Driving
The comprehensive annual costs associated with alcohol-related car accidents amount to nearly $60 billion each year in the United States. This includes calculating all associated losses – not only the immediate losses sustained at the time of the accident, but such things as lost wages and similar losses. Medical expenses are also included in the calculation.
For Pennsylvania, PennDOT outlines the many costs associated with DUI arrests, including:
- Towing and impound fees
- Traffic fines
- Legal fees
- License restoration fees
- Increased insurance premiums
- Education and treatment, which the court may order
These don’t touch on the cost of property damage and injuries to other parties, which may result in civil claims. In addition, jail time for a DUI causes loss of income and may even result in job loss.
Legal Assistance for DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania
A person charged with a DUI faces serious consequences, including hefty fines and incarceration – not to mention the social ramifications. If you were recently arrested for drunk driving, one of the first steps you can take to protect your future is hiring a defense attorney to represent you.