In 2021, there was a 58% conviction rate for drunk and drug-impaired drivers as compared with 63% in 2020, according to a new report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The decline in convictions is baffling to some experts as it focuses on a time when traffic fatalities were spiking — with more than 46,000 roadway deaths in 2021, according to the National Safety Council.
MADD’s report reflects observations and data collected by MADD court monitors in 12 states from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. Specifically, 120 court monitors observed roughly 33,000 impaired driving cases. The monitored cases did not involve injuries or deaths.
Some key findings from the report concern demographics, which paint a picture of who is likely to get behind the wheel after drinking or drugging. For example, most defendants — 73% — were male. Moreover, 60% of defendants were between the ages of 21 to 39.
Based on the report, the most common portrait of the intoxicated driver that emerges is that of a young male. In fact, nearly one-third (32%) of the defendants were male drivers age 21 to 39.
Other key findings in the report concern number of offenses and blood alcohol levels. Some 78% of defendants were charged with a first drunk driving offense and 12% with a second offense. Most disturbing, an alarming 22% of defendants had two or more offenses.
As for blood alcohol levels, they varied. Approximately 45% of the offenders registered a BAC of .08 to .14 while 48% of defendants registered a staggering BAC of .15 or higher.
Formally launched in 2015, the goal of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program is to support law enforcement efforts to protect the public from drunk and drug-impaired driving by prosecuting offenders to the full extent of the law.
Every day, about 28 people in the U.S. die in drunk driving crashes — that translates to one person every 52 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.