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Drunk driving: How great a problem in Washington, D.C.?

| Jul 28, 2020 | Car Accidents

If you live anywhere in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including Bethesda, Maryland, you know how heavy the traffic is at virtually all hours of the day and night. What you may not realize, however, is that Washington, D.C. has a serious drunk driving problem.

The Washington Post reports that law enforcement officers made an alcohol- or drug-related arrest every 38 minutes in Washington, D.C. during 2017, the latest year for which data exists.

2017 fatalities

The figures come from a report composed jointly by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program. Additional data reveal that 86 people died in 2017 as the result of an alcohol- or drug-related traffic accident. This translates to 32% of all Washington, D.C. fatalities.

Prince George’s, Arlington and Montgomery counties all saw their drunk driving fatalities double during 2017. Prince George’s County had the dubious distinction of recording the most alcohol-related fatalities: 34, up from 17 the previous year.

Non-fatality decreases

These troubling drunk driving fatality statistics come at a time when other alcohol-related traffic statistics in the greater Washington, D.C. area show a downward trend. For instance, alcohol-related crash injuries decreased by over 7% in 2017 as compared to 2016. As for alcohol-related crashes themselves, they totaled 4,324 in 2017, a 2.6% decrease from the 4,438 such crashes in 2016. Even the one arrest every 38 minutes represents an 8% decrease from 2016, the numbers going down from 14,757 in 2016 to 13,564 in 2017.

Nevertheless, as the president of WRAP stated, “The fact that the number of drunken driving deaths increased in Greater Washington in 2017 and that in the same year, the region averaged a DUI arrest every 38 minutes demonstrates that there is still more work to do on the fight against drunken driving,”