Alcohol and Drug-Related Traffic Fatalities Decrease in Metropolitan-Washington

New data also shows increase in alcohol-related injuries, crashes and arrests

Washington, D.C. (December 6, 2022) – The number of alcohol and drug-related traffic fatalities decreased by 10-percent between 2020 and 2021 in the metropolitan Washington area, according to the 30th-annual “How Safe Are Our Roads?” report prepared by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

Meanwhile, the number of alcohol-related injuries, crashes, and arrests all increased during the same period.

The ten-percent decrease in fatalities is the lowest recorded for the region in a half-decade, countering national early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing an increase of five-percent in fatalities in “police-reported, alcohol involvement crashes.”

“We are grateful to see the progress made in the number of fatalities in our region but there is still a lot of work to do” said WRAP President Kurt Erickson. “We are still averaging 28 DUI arrests and 10 drunk driving crashes every single day.”

Overall traffic fatalities in the area increased over 17-percent during the COVID-impacted 2020-2021 period.

“The timing of this report is poignant as we enter the holiday season, a time of year when we see increases in impaired driving” said COG Police Chiefs Committee Chair and Laurel Police Chief Russell E. Hamill, III. “Around this time, we see as many as nearly half of all traffic deaths involve drunk drivers.”

Findings from the report include:

  • Fatalities: Regional alcohol and/or drug-impaired traffic fatalities decreased by 10-percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 95 to 85 such fatalities).
  • Injuries: Regional alcohol and/or drug-related traffic injuries increased over 17-percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 1,298 to 1,522 such injuries).
  • Crashes: Regional traffic crashes attributed to alcohol and/or drugs increased by over 14-percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 3,292 to 3,739 such crashes).
  • Arrests: Local arrests for either driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) increased by 3.7-percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 9,882 to 10,248).

In addition, nearly one-quarter (24.9%) of Greater Washington’s traffic fatalities last year involved impaired drivers.

View the report here.

Kurt Gregory Erickson:, (703) 625-2303
Janele Partman:, (202) 962-3250