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Even though Virginia has enacted strict drunk-driving penalties, hundreds of people still lose their lives each year in drunk-driving-related accidents.

Nationwide, the annual number of alcohol-related deaths from auto accidents soars to over 10,000.

While Virginia is not the worst state in the country for DUIs, the state’s drunk driving accident statistics provide some concerning insights. Read on to learn more about DUI-related statistics in Virginia. 

If you have questions, or would like to speak with a Richmond drunk driving lawyer, please contact us today!

Virginia Drunk Driving Car Accident Statistics from 1996 to 2021

The percentage of total crashes involving alcohol impairment in Virginia has primarily trended downward every year. In 1996, 11,220 crashes, or 8.6%, involved alcohol. In 2021, the number was down to 6,749 or 5.7%. 

The total number of alcohol-related fatalities in 1996 was 346. In recent years, the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities has generally trended down. The most recent 2021 statistics put the number of deaths in alcohol-related accidents at 247. 

Alcohol-related injuries have also been trending downward since 1996, when they were at a near-high of 9,083. 1997 was the highest year during this period, with 9,124 injuries. By 2021, those figures were over 50% lower, with 4,224 alcohol-related injuries. 

Unfortunately, the average blood alcohol content (“BAC”) levels of drunk drivers have been increasing recently, while DUI convictions have decreased.

In 1996, 27,921 people were convicted of a DUI, with an average BAC of 0.143. In 2021, convictions fell to 15,988 while the average BAC rose to 0.155. 

Virginia vs. National Averages—DUI Death Rates by Age and Sex

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia ranks lower than the national average in all categories of alcohol-impaired driving death rates by age except for one—underage DUI deaths.

The national average for 0-20 years old is 11 per 100,000 people. However, Virginia ranks slightly higher at 13 per 100,000 people. 

Other Virginia drunk driving accident statistics for age-related DUI fatalities indicate: 

  • Ages 21-34—5.6 DUI fatalities per 100,000 people in Virginia, versus the national average of 6.2; 
  • Ages 35+—2.5 DUI fatalities per 100,000 people in Virginia, versus the national average of 3.1;
  • All ages—2.8 DUI fatalities per 100,000 people in Virginia, versus the national average of 3.2. 

Regarding alcohol-impaired driving deaths by sex, the national average per 100,000 is 4.9 for males and 1.6 for females. In Virginia, it’s 4.2 for males and 1.4 for females. 

DUI Accidents by Virginia County

Statistics released by the Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Highway Safety Office include a breakdown of DUI-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries by county. The most recent report covers 2018 to 2022.

The counties with the most alcohol-related crashes were: 

  • Fairfax County—650 crashes,
  • Prince William County—384 crashes, 
  • Chesterfield County—329 crashes, and
  • Henrico County—291 crashes. 

Counties with the highest DUI fatalities from 2018 to 2022 were: 

  • Fairfax County—22 deaths,
  • Henrico County—12 deaths, 
  • Prince William County—11 deaths, 
  • Albemarle and Norfolk County—10 deaths each. 

Counties with the highest DUI-accident injuries from 2018 to 2022 were: 

  • Fairfax County—383 injuries, 
  • Prince William County—187 injuries,
  • Loudon County—165 injuries, and
  • Norfolk City—144 injuries. 

According to the report, there’s one crash every 4.3 minutes in Virginia, and 2.8 lives are lost daily. 

Underage Drinking and Driving in Virginia 

Virginia struggles with underage drinking and driving, as evidenced by the higher-than-average statistics for underage DUI fatalities.

Like other states, Virginia has a zero-tolerance law concerning anyone under 21 consuming alcohol and driving. Certain times of year are prone to higher episodes of underage drinking and driving, including prom and graduation. 

According to the CDC, the percentage of teenagers 16 and older who drink and drive decreased by half between 1991 and 2011. However, one in ten high school students still reported drinking and driving one or more times.

Because teen drivers are three times more likely to get into a fatal crash, consuming alcohol increases that risk significantly. 

Virginia Labor Day DUI Statistics 

Labor Day typically signals the end of the summer season. However, the Virginia State Police note that it’s not the time to stop prioritizing traffic safety. The annual Operation CARE (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort) takes place every Labor Day weekend.

During this time, motorists will see an increased law enforcement presence and checkpoints. The purpose is to stop as many impaired drivers as possible before they cause an accident. 

Statistics for the 2023 Labor Day weekend have yet to be released. In 2022, however, the Virginia State Police busted 87 impaired drivers. 

What Are the Worst States for Drunk Driving?

According to research from Forbes Advisor, Montana ranks as the worst state in the country for the most drunk drivers, followed by Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Virginia comes in at 34th on this list. The districts and states with the fewest drunk drivers are the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Utah, Delaware, and New York. 

Other Types of Impaired Driving 

Drinking alcohol isn’t the only type of impairment that can kill someone. Driving under the influence of drugs is also severely risky.

Illegal drugs can cause impairment similar to the effects caused by consuming alcohol. Someone who smokes marijuana or takes another illicit drug cannot always judge their impairment level. 

It’s important to note that you can also find yourself in trouble with prescription medication. When the pharmacist tells you not to take this medication and operate a vehicle, there’s a reason.

You should discuss all prescription medications with your health provider and understand the effects of the drug on you before getting behind the wheel. 

Driving under the influence of illicit drugs or prescription medication in Virginia can also result in a DUI arrest.

Virginia law enforcement officers receive special training to help them recognize drugged drivers. Do not assume a DUI only means drinking alcohol and driving. 

Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer at River Run Law 

Did you or a loved one sustained injuries from a drunk driver in Virginia? If so, you could have the right to pursue a claim for your injuries and other damages.

At River Run Law, we focus exclusively on personal injury matters. Our founding partners have decades of combined legal experience and will aggressively pursue the fair compensation you deserve. 

Please contact our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your legal rights if a drunk driver strikes you. 

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Brooke Alexander

Brooke graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law after receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Brooke worked for five years in private practice with a law firm specializing in insurance defense litigation before becoming the trial litigator for Allstate Insurance Company in the metro Richmond area.

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