Law enforcement agencies in Illinois and across the country have clamped down on drunk driving in recent years, and these efforts appear to be paying off according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. When the survey was first taken in 2002, a worrying 15.3 percent of the driving age Americans polled admitted to driving while impaired by alcohol during the previous year. However, that figure has been falling steadily ever since.
The NSDUH is compiled using polling data provided to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about illicit drug use and tobacco and alcohol consumption. In 2014, the number of Americans who admitted to driving drunk during the previous year fell to 11.1 percent. A further 4.1 percent admitted to getting behind the wheel after taking drugs and 2.4 percent of the respondents said that they had driven while both drunk and drugged during the previous 12 months. In 2002, the respective figures were 15.3 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent.
The NSDUH responses seem to be contradicted by fatality statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to that agency, the number of road users killed in drunk driving crashes increased to 10,265 in 2015 from 9,943 in 2014. Road safety experts say that the rising death toll on the nation’s roads is being caused by a surge in traffic levels and not an increase in reckless behavior, and they point out that the number of drunk driving deaths per mile traveled actually fell in 2015.
Negotiating a plea agreement in drunk driving cases can be difficult for criminal defense attorneys. Prosecutors may be reluctant to show leniency when toxicology evidence is compelling. However, the results of breath or blood tests may be challenged in certain situations, and even prosecutors who have adopted a firm position could agree to reduce charges or to a lesser penalty when the defendant demonstrates genuine remorse and has not been in trouble with the law before.