Drunk driving in the United States is nearly an epidemic. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 29.1 million people have admitted to driving drunk at one time or another in their life, which is more than the population of Texas. 23.1% of those people are between the ages of 21 to 25 years old, and the average drunk driver has driven while intoxicated upwards of 80 times before being arrested. Even scarier stats: every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving-related accident; and, as of 2013, someone is killed every 52 minutes by a drunk driver.
So, where does Oregon stand in all of this? According to MADD.org, Oregon is a “three star” state out of five, having made major improvements in the state drunk driving laws over the last eight years. The Oregon DUII Data Book, covering the years 1998 through 2008, shows that car crashes as a result of drunk driving that cause fatalities and injuries has decreased from 19,284 in 1999 to 18,409 in 2008. And, DUII offenses have decreased by 1.1% over the ten-year period, which is impressive considering the 14.8% increase in population during that time in Oregon state. For those convicted, the number of diversion agreements (or, an alternative sentence to jail time) has also decreased, by 11.6%, which presumably means harsher sentencing from Oregon state judges.
On the subject of young people under the influence, Minor in Possession (MIP) citations have been cut in half since 1998, decreasing from 14,849 to 7,762 by 2008. In that same year, 718 juveniles were denied their license privileges, presumably because of past citations and/or convictions. Most importantly, though, the number of fatalities in people under the age of 21 has decreased in Oregon, again almost by half. In 1998, 77 youths died alcohol-related deaths, and in 2008, that number was 34. But, all of these statistics, though good and evident of progress, do not mean that the hard work is over. The fact of the matter is, there are still drunk drivers out on the roads, in Oregon and everywhere else, and young people experimenting with drugs and alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Diligence on the part of our law enforcement officers to educate citizens and stop dangerous driving in action will eradicate drunk driving and make the necessity of these statistics a thing of the past.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUII in the state of Oregon, contact Portland DUI/DUII lawyer Andy Green.