DUI Fatalities Increase in Greater Washington While Related Crashes, Injuries and Arrests Decrease

New data released in 2020 “How Safe are our Roads” Report

Washington, DC, December 28– Alcohol-related crashes, injuries, and drunk driving arrests all decreased in the metropolitan Washington area in 2019, according to the 28th-annual “How Safe Are Our Roads?” Report prepared by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

However, alcohol and/or drug-impaired traffic fatalities increased during this same period. There were 90 alcohol and/or drug-impaired traffic fatalities recorded in 2019, compared to 85 fatalities in 2018 – a nearly six-percent (5.88%) increase in such deaths from the previous year.

“With Greater Washington now exceeding the national average as to the percentage of traffic deaths involving impaired drivers, it’s all too clear that the local fight against drunk driving is far from won,” said WRAP President Kurt Erickson.

“Law enforcement agencies in the region are committed to combatting one of the rare public health issues that is 100 percent preventable – impaired driving,” said COG Police Chiefs Committee Chairman and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department Chief David Huchler. “While there are many proactive education and enforcement initiatives underway in the region, the annual How Safe are Our Roads Report allows law enforcement to assess reported incidents and make data-driven decisions on the deployment of police resources with the ultimate goal of making our roadways safer for all travelers.”

Findings from the report include:

Crashes: Area traffic crashes attributed to alcohol and/or drugs decreased by 1.43-percent between 2018 and 2019 (from 4,335 to 4,273 crashes).

Injuries: Regional alcohol and/or drug-related traffic injuries also decreased by 4.62-percent between 2018 and 2019 (from 1,863 to 1,777 injuries).

Arrests: Local arrests for either driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) decreased by 2.61-percent between 2018 and 2019 (from 14,293 to 13,920 arrests).

Of the metropolitan Washington area’s 280 total traffic fatalities in 2019, nearly a third of these roadway deaths were alcohol and/or drug-related. Nationally, 28-percent of total U.S. vehicular fatalities in 2019 were reported as alcohol-impaired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

MORE: View the “How Safe are our Roads?” Report here.

Kurt Gregory Erickson: kurt@wrap.org, (703) 625-2303

Janele Partman: jpartman@mwcog.org, (202) 962-3250