Council on Alcoholism and Addictions

of the Finger Lakes


Driving while intoxicated or impaired driving, whether by alcohol, other drugs, or alcohol and other drugs combined, is one of the greatest health and safety problems in America. It is by far one of the largest single criminal causes of accidents and death throughout the country, and is one of the most preventable social problems we have.

    At highest risk are young people. DWI is the NUMBER ONE KILLER of youth under the age of 25. Those between the ages of 16 and 19 are in the most danger. One study found that older drivers (20 years old or older) with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher were about 100 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those with no alcohol in their blood. But 16-to-20 year olds with such a BAC were 400 times more likely to die than same-aged drivers who had not been drinking.

    While alcohol is the most widely used drug and the one most often linked to motor vehicle accidents, other drugs also impair driving... especially when combined with alcohol. Since driving involves such basic skills as attention, judgment, perception, decision making, physical reaction and coordination, drivers under the influence of any drug pose road safety hazards and lead to more fatal and non-fatal accidents. In one study at a Trauma Unit, 40% of those admitted tested positive for drugs other than alcohol. The most commony found drugs were cannabis, tranquilizers, and cocaine. There were also cases of accident victims under the influence of other prescription medications.

    The STOP-DWI Program in New York State has been one of the most successful prevention programs of this caliber. The comprehensive strategy has utilized law enforcement, public policy, judicial efficiency, a comprehensive prevention campaign, a Drinking Driver Program and Treatment for the chemically dependent, and has had a tremendous impact. Since 1980 when the program was first implemented, the liklihood of being involved in a DWI crash has fallen by more than 70%.

     Driving while intoxicated is not a victimless crime. In fact, it is one area where community groups have developed to addresss the issue in a no nonsense manner. Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID), Mothers Against Drinking and Driving (MADD), and Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) are all involved in furthering the great success that the anti-DWI campaign has had. Even the federal government has increased Stop-DWI efforts with the annual December 3-D Awareness Month (Drinking, Drugging and Driving).

    DWI is a community-wide problem, and needs a community-wide response. Contact your legislators and let them know that the community needs a strong anti-DWI program. Most importantly, be sure that you do not drink or use and substances while you drive and that you are not a participant in someone else drinking or drugging and driving. Take DWI seriously, it is the only way we can make amends to those who senselessly lost their lives.


     The Number of Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities in the United States dropped to 15,935 in 1998,  the lowest level in 17 years.
    The figure dropped 1.5% from the year before, when alcohol was involved in 16,189 crash deaths, according to a federal government study released on September 1st, 1999.
    The number of young people killed in alcohol-related crashes also dropped to a record low.
In 2000, DWI fatalities did increase for the first time in five years. In 2000, 40 percent of highway accident deaths involved alcohol (16,653 of the 41,812 total deaths), up by 2 percent from 1999.!


The typical behaviors which occur for a moderate drinker
at various blood alcohol levels are:

BAL:                                    BEHAVIOR

.01 - .05%                    Lowered alertness; usually a "good" felling; extroversion; thought and
                                        judgement impaired; restraint loosened.

.06 - .10%                      Large, consistent decreases in reaction time; decreases in depth
                                         perception and in peripheral vision; glare recovery impaired; behavior
                                         changes; diminished awareness.

.13 - .20%                      Marked depression in motor capability; decidedly intoxicated;
                                          sometimes emotional demonstrations of anger, joy, weeping,
                                          shouting, etc.

.21 - .25%                      Severe motor disturbances; staggering; sensory perception greatly
                                         impaired, e.g., blurred vision.

.30%                               Semi-stupor.

.35%                               Surgical anesthesia; minimal level to cause death in some people.

.40%                               Comatose.

.40 - .50%                      Cessation of breathing and heart beat possible.


.025%         Minimal possibility of having an accident over someone who didn’t drink.

.05%          Three times the possibility of getting into an accident over someone who
                     didn’t drink.

.075%        Five times the possibility of getting into an accident.......

.10%           Fifteen times the possibility of getting into an accident.....

.125%         Twenty-five times the possibility of getting into an accident....

.151%         Seventy-five times the possibility of getting into an accident....

.176%         Two hundred times the possibility of getting into an accident....

In NYS (in the early 80's), the average person arrested for DWI had a .21% BAL !!!

                        The Real Cost of a Drink

               If you drink and drive a DUI could cost you...
                             Vehicle towing and storage                               $187
                                                Booking, fingerprinting, and photo fee        $156
                                                Driver license reinstatement fee                      $100
                                                Car insurance increase                                        $2,700
                                                 DUI fine                                                                             $480
                                                 Assessment for court system                             $816
                                                 Community service fee                                               $44
                                                  DUI victims fund                                                         $100
                                                  Alcohol abuse education fund                             50
                                                  DUI classes                                                                    $550
                                                  DUI Victim's Impact session                                      $20
                                                  Time payment charge                                                 $35
                                                 Total Fees, Fines, and Assessments         $5,238 (*)

       (*) (If you have an attorney, add $2,000) 

       Information obtained from the California Department of Motor Vehicles....
       Total Cost may be $5,000 -$10,000 !!!!!!

What is Impaired Driving?

 In 2012, there were over 5,600 alcohol and drug impaired car crashes in New York State!
Any amount of alcohol will, to some degree, affect a person’s ability to drive. It takes only one standard drink to begin impairment!
But drugs can also impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Read the warnings on your prescription bottle or over-the-counter medication: if the warning states “do not use heavy machinery” it refers to driving an automobile.
Recent studies show that as many as 40% of the driving public may be
 under the influence of a drug other than alcohol, at any given time.
 DWI has catastrophic consequences for both victims and drivers…. Don’t operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
To Report a Suspected incident of DWI:  Call 911