Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Every 50 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from a vehicle crash because of alcohol. That's nearly 10,500 deaths per year. About one-third of all traffic deaths are linked to alcohol.

Driving after drinking alcohol or using drugs is a very serious problem. To safely drive, you need a clear sense of time and speed. You also need to pay attention, think quickly, and react right away. Drugs and alcohol act on the brain. They affect all these functions.


When you are under the influence, you may not know that you are impaired. This is because of changes in perception and judgment. Before you start drinking, have a plan for getting home. Be sure to do 1 of these:

  • Have someone in your group who won't drink alcohol. This is the designated driver.

  • Use a cab or ride-sharing service.

  • Call a friend or family member.

The effects of alcohol depend mostly on 2 things: how much and how fast you drink. Other things that affect how long alcohol stays in the body and affects you are:

  • If you are a man or woman

  • Your age

  • Your weight

  • If you are sick or healthy

  • Food you have eaten

  • Medicines you have taken

  • How often you drink and how used to drinking you are (your tolerance)

Drinking responsibly means knowing how alcohol affects you. Know how much you can drink without putting you or others in danger. You may be legally too drunk to drive even if you don’t feel like it.

Follow-up care

If you or your friends or family think you could have a drug or alcohol problem, then you likely do. These resources can help:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This group gives support through mutual self-help. Contact them at www.aa.org.

  • Al-Anon. This group gives support to families and friends of problem drinkers. Contact them at 800-425-2666 or www.al-anon-org.

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). NCADD gives information and referrals for substance abuse problems. Contact them at 800-622-2255.

  • Residential alcohol treatment. This type of inpatient program may help. Look online to find one near you. You can also ask your provider for a referral.

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