Monday, September 14, 2009
Drinking and Driving Under the Influence in Idaho
Driving under the influence (DUI) remains a problem in Idaho.
Earlier this year law enforcement conducted a 14 day study during a crackdown on DUI driving which noted that police across the state of Idaho had arrested 459 people for DUI (during March 8-22, 2009). This figure exceeded the number of arrests over the Christmas to New Years statewide crackdown in 2008 which culminated in 390 arrests over the 13 day period. Last year, there were 314 arrests during the nine day Thanksgiving operation. State police in S.E. Idaho made 284 DUI arrests during all of 2008.
Notwithstanding efforts to educate the public about the dangers associated with driving under the influence, intoxicated drivers continue to be arrested in large numbers. It appears, however, that the number of drivers arrested for driving under the influence of narcotics is also becoming just as serious a problem as those driving under the influence of alcohol.
The federal government has begun to study this trend. In 1973, statistics from U.S. Department of Transportation showed that 7.5 percent of American drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher; in the latest survey conducted in 2007 that figure fell to 2.2%. Unfortunately, the decline in DUI drivers is offsent by the num ber of thos found to be driving under the influence of narcotics. In 2007, 16.3%of weekend nighttime drivers were using illegal drugs; marijuana and cocaine were found to be most prevalent.
There were 1,783 DUI related motor vehicle crashes in Idaho in 2008 according to the Idaho Department of Transportation (an 8% decrease from 2007). In 2008, there were 96 DUI related deaths which was a drop in fatalities from 101 in 2007. During the first quarter of 2009 there was a 9% drop in traffic fatalities compared to the first quarter of 2008.
Nationally, the statistics demonstrate a similiar trend. The U.S. DOT announced in July that the nation’s highway death count for 2008 was 37,261, a 9.7 percent drop from the year before. The fatality rate for 2008 was 1.27 persons per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 7 percent drop from 2007. Alcohol-related fatalities for 2008 showed a more than 9 percent decrease from the prior year. However, the decrease in deaths is attributable to a decline in the number of miles driven due to the increase in gas prices.
Some experts attribute the declining traffic deaths and fatality rates to the fact that high gas prices have resulted in motorists driving less in recent years, but the declines have far outpaced the decreases in miles traveled.
Albeit that the number of fatalities have decreased in the past year or two, impaired driving continues to be a problem. Of all fatalities attributable to driving on Idaho's roads, approximately 31% were due to driving under the influence.
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For additional information contact:
Alan L. Morton
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1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
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