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Substance/Alcohol Use and Driving


According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes- that's one person every 39 minutes.

In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths- a 14% increase from 2020. In 2021, the highest percentage of drunk drivers (with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher) were the 21-to 24-year-old age group and 25-to-34-year old age groups. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of fatal crashes involve an underage drinking driver.

How much does A DUI cost?

Beyond lost lives and painful injuries, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost federal and local governments and taxpayers approximately $123.3 billion each year. (CDC, 2020).

Of course, a single DUI won’t cost you anywhere near that much. But getting caught driving under the influence can be expensive. Costs vary state by state, but you could spend about $4,000-$5,000 on fines, impound fees, a DUI treatment program, insurance increases and other things—and that’s before you hire a lawyer.

Some Consequences of a First DUI Arrest and Conviction

  • Your license will be suspended for a period of time.

  • You may have to participate in a treatment program.

  • You may even have to spend a weekend in jail.

But even for first offenders, DUI laws and penalties are getting tougher every year.

As of the end of December 2007, all states have:

  • Made 21 the legal drinking age

  • Passed Zero Tolerance laws prohibiting drivers under 21 from having any measurable alcohol in their system

  • Lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for adults from .1 to .08

Your failure or refusal to take a breathalyzer test has increased consequences. Nearly two thirds of all states now allow arresting officers to confiscate your driver’s license on the spot!

Penalties for repeat offenders are also getting tougher. If you get a second or third DUI conviction and you will likely face:

  • Mandatory jail time

  • Longer license suspension

  • Larger fines

Even hardship licenses for driving back and forth to work are hard to get these days. So if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having multiple DUI’s, severe consequences can be difficult or impossible to avoid even with a good lawyer. Most states now have Habitual Violator laws, which require felony convictions for three DUI convictions. Three-time losers can lose their driver’s license permanently and can even lose basic civil rights like the right to vote.

See what the laws and penalties are for DUI convictions in West Virginia.

See how it will also affect you at WVU, see the Student Conduct Code.

Long-term Consequences

Once you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you will probably have to disclose that conviction on every future application you fill out. Most potential employers take DUI convictions seriously. A DUI conviction may also prevent you from joining the military or getting a government or civil service job.

If you’ve already got a DUI, now is the time to take advantage of every option within your reach to turn your life around. By recognizing that you have a problem and taking the initiative to get help, there is a chance you might even get your record erased.

Related Educational Resources

See similar informational materials.

Unhealthy Alcohol Use

Learn about the ways people struggle with the use of alcohol and how you can identify it.

Substance Misuse and Treatment

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What's in a Drink

Learn what's in alcoholic beverages, how it might be affecting you, and how to drink more responsibly.