Study Finds Steady Declines in Drunk Driving

Every time, there's a major holiday California transportation agencies expound non-stop on the large numbers of expected intoxicated drivers on the street. However, as any Los Angeles DUI lawyer will tell you, the numbers of intoxicated drivers on California roads has actually been declining steadily over the past few years.

New research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirms this fact. According to the report, the percentage of motorists on the road driving under the influence of alcohol has plunged dramatically over the past few decades.

The Insurance Institute findings were based on an analysis of national roadside breath test study surveys that were conducted on weekends. These tests were conducted in 48 states in 1986, 1996 and 2007. The data was then matched with data on fatal accidents and intoxicated driving from the federal government database.

The research found that the number of people who tested positive on roadside breath tests, continued to decline every year that the data was analyzed. However, that didn't necessarily translate into a decline in the number of people killed in traffic accidents linked to alcohol use.

According to the study, the proportion of intoxicated drivers who were driving with a blood-alcohol level of or above .08%, has been consistently dropping since 1994. In fact, between 1982 and 1994, the percentage of such intoxicated drivers dropped by nearly 50%.In California, legally intoxicated could mean any motorist driving with a blood-alcohol concentration level of .08 or more.

There have been staggering declines in the number of intoxicated motorists on our roads, but what the researchers are really concerned about is the paradox, that this decline in intoxicated drivers has not translated into a drop in the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents. In 2012, for instance, according to the study, 10,322 people died in accidents involving motorists who were driving legally intoxicated.