Impaired Driving


Incidence of Impaired Driving

For one of every 110 miles driven in Rhode Island in 1999, a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) >.08 sat behind the wheel. Police in Rhode Island reported 5,110 crashes involving a driver or pedestrian with a BAC of .01 or more. Formulas developed by NHTSA were used to estimate the number of alcohol-related crashes where alcohol involvement was not reported by the police. An estimated total of 10,270 crashes in Rhode Island involved alcohol which killed 88 and injured an estimated 2,500 people.

Impaired Driving by Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

In 1999, Rhode Island drivers with:

  • BACs of .10 and above were involved in an estimated 9,800 crashes that killed 25 and injured 2,200
  • BACs between .08-.09 were involved in an estimated 170 crashes that killed 18 and injured 100
  • Positive BACs below .08 were involved in an estimated 300 crashes that killed 45 and injured 200


Alcohol is a factor in 40% of Rhode Island’s crash costs. Alcohol-related crashes in Rhode Island cost the public an estimated $0.7 billion in 1999, including $0.3 billion in monetary costs and almost $0.4 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 $0.4 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill.

Costs per Alcohol-Related Injury

The average alcohol-related fatality in Rhode Island costs $4.5 million:

  • $1.3 million in monetary costs
  • $3.2 million in quality of life losses

The estimated cost per injured survivor of an alcohol-related crash averaged 128,000:

  • $59,000 in monetary costs
  • $69,000 in quality of life losses

Costs per Mile Driven

Crash costs in Rhode Island averaged:

  • $13.10 per mile driven at BACs of .10 and above
  • $5.60 per mile driven at BACs between .08-.09
  • $0.30 per mile driven at BACs of .00

Costs per Drink

The societal costs of alcohol-related crashes in Rhode Island averaged $1.40 per drink consumed. People other than the drinking driver paid $0.80 per drink.

Impact on Auto Insurance Rates

Alcohol-related crashes accounted for an estimated 17% of Rhode Island’s auto insurance payments. Reducing alcohol-related crashes by 10% would save $16 million in claims payments and loss adjustment expenses.

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