While some people can drink without consequence, millions of others struggle with alcohol use disorder. People who abuse or are dependent upon alcohol are more likely to make dangerous decisions when drinking. One of the riskiest choices a person can make is to drive while under the influence of alcohol. But despite the known danger of impaired driving, 2.2 percent of people in Massachusetts still choose to drive drunk.
Additional DWI, OUI, and drunk driving statistics include:
- About one in every three traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver
- From 2003 to 2012, drunk driver crashes killed 1,370 people in Massachusetts
- People aged 21-34 are most likely to drive while intoxicated
- Compared to females, males are almost twice as likely to drive drunk
- In 2017, more than 10,000 people died from drunk driving accidents
- Around 29 percent of motor vehicle fatalities were caused by drunk driving
- More than 200 children under the age of 14 were killed in drunk driving crashes
Why Do People Drive Drunk?
If most people know that drunk driving is hazardous, why does this continue to be such an issue? For some people, it comes down to thinking that the consequences simply won’t happen to them. Unfortunately, anyone who drives under the influence is at risk of killing themselves or another person. If you or someone you love is struggling to control their drinking, help is available in the form of addiction treatment. At rehab centers like Swift River, people who suffer from alcohol use are empowered to reclaim their lives in recovery.
What’s the Difference Between DUI, DWI, and OUI?
In Massachusetts, several legal terms are used to refer to an impaired driving charge. Some people may use the term DUI (driving under the influence), and others may say DWI (driving while intoxicated). The state of Massachusetts penalizes impaired drivers with a charge called OUI (operating under the influence). These charges can refer to people who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Just like in other parts of the U.S., the legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. OUIs can be issued to people aged 20 and under, as well as those who are 21 and above.
What Happens if You Get a DUI, DWI, Or OUI in Massachusetts?
If a person under 21 has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 or greater, they can suspend or revoke the person’s license. If a young person refuses the chemical BAC test, their vehicle can be impounded for 12 hours. After an OUI offense, a young person’s license could be suspended for up to three years. If it is their second or third OUI offense, they could lose their license for an extended period of time (or even permanently). Penalties are stricter if the impaired person drove with a child under 14 in the vehicle. For those who are 21 or older, the legal BAC limit is 0.08 percent. If any adult refuses the chemical test, their license will automatically be suspended. The vehicle will also be impounded. Finally, for Massachusetts commercial vehicle drivers (those holding a CDL), a BAC of 0.04 is the highest limit legally allowed.
Depending on the number of prior offenses, a person’s license may be permanently suspended:
- If a person over 21 has never had a prior OUI, their license is suspended for 180 days
- If they have a single prior offense, they lose the license for three years
- Two prior offenses mean the license could be suspended for up to five years
- Three or more prior OUIs will likely result in a lifetime suspension
How Much Does It Cost To Get a DUI, DWI, Or OUI in Massachusetts?
When it comes to driving under the influence, court costs can vary based on age and the cooperation level of the driver. Even a first offense OUI charge can cost thousands of dollars and include jail time, loss of license, and hefty reinstatement fees. People who are attempting to reinstate their license may also be required to complete an alcohol education program or community service hours. If a person has multiple OUI charges, fees and potential jail sentences will likely increase.
These costs can include, but are not limited to:
- Bail money
- Car towing or impound fees
- Attorney fees
- Court and miscellaneous fines
- Testing fees for individuals who have to submit to random drug and alcohol screenings as a condition of bail or sentencing
- Fees associated with any court-ordered community service, or court-ordered equipment, such as a breathalyzer tied to the car ignition
- Fees for any required classes like substance abuse education or driving courses
- Fees for licensing and license reinstatement
- Increased insurance costs
Avoiding A DWI or DUI
While drunk driving fatalities have gone down in recent years, driving under the influence is still a problem in the U.S. Every day, nearly 30 Americans lose their lives due to drunk driving crashes — that is one person every 48 minutes. If you are going to consume alcohol, make a transportation plan for yourself. Avoid the mistake of thinking you can drive while drunk or “buzzed.”
Some of the ways you can avoid the dangers of drunk driving include:
- Selecting a designated driver
- Having a sober friend pick you up
- Calling a cab, Uber, or Lyft driver
- Making arrangements to stay overnight in a nearby hotel
If someone you know has been drinking, take their keys and do not allow them to drive. Find them a sober ride alternative. And if you see an impaired driver on the road, notify the police immediately.
Getting Help For Alcohol Use And Addiction
Driving under the influence can be an indication that someone is struggling with alcohol use. If you are concerned that someone you love is having trouble controlling their drinking, addiction treatment is available. At Swift River, we provide inpatient addiction treatment that includes on-site detoxification and a range of evidence-based therapies. Patients at Swift River engage in individual counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and 12-step support in a serene and supportive environment. Our treatment center is located in a lush, natural setting in northern Massachusetts. To learn more about drunk driving statistics in Massachusetts or explore rehab program options near you, reach out to a Swift River treatment specialist today.