Impaired Driving

Incidence of Impaired Driving

For one of every 220 miles driven in Kentucky in 1996, a legally intoxicated person (BAC $.10) sat behind the wheel. Kentucky police report 6,150 crashes involving a driver or pedestrian with a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Formulas developed by NHTSA were used to estimate the number of alcohol-related crashes where alcohol involvement is not reported by the police. An estimated total of 15,800 crashes in Kentucky involved alcohol. These crashes killed 296 and injured an estimated 9,600 people.

Impaired Driving by Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

In 1996, Kentucky drivers with:

  • BACs of .10 and above were involved in an estimated 15,000 crashes that killed 236 and injured 8,400
  • BACs between .08-.09 were involved in an estimated 300 crashes that killed 17 and injured 400
  • Positive BACs below .08 were involved in an estimated 500 crashes that killed 43 and injured 800


Alcohol is a factor in 31% of Kentucky crash costs. Alcohol-related crashes in Kentucky cost the public more than $1.6 billion in 1996, including $0.6 billion in monetary costs and more than $1.0 billion in quality of life losses. (For definitions of the cost categories, see the definitions fact sheet.) Alcohol-related crashes are deadlier and more serious than other crashes. People other than the drinking driver paid $0.7 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill.

Costs Per Alcohol-Related Injury

The average alcohol-related fatality in Kentucky cost $3.1 million:

  • $1.2 million in monetary costs
  • $1.9 million in quality of life losses

The estimated cost per injured survivor of an alcohol-related crash averaged $77,000:

  • $32,000 in monetary costs
  • $45,000 in quality of life losses

Costs Per Mile Driven

Crash costs in Kentucky averaged:

  • $3.90 per mile driven at BACs of .10 and above
  • $1.70 per mile driven at BACs between .08-.09
  • $0.10 per mile driven at BACs of .00

Costs Per Drink

The societal costs of alcohol-related crashes in Kentucky averaged $1.00 per drink consumed. People other than the drinking driver paid $0.50 per drink.

Impact on Auto Insurance Rates

Alcohol-related crashes accounted for an estimated 12% of Kentucky's auto insurance payments. Reducing alcohol-related crashes by 10% would save $40 million in claims payments and loss adjustment expenses.

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