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Connecticut drunk driving fatalities among highest in the nation

Statistics for drunk driving fatalities in Connecticut published earlier this year showed some good news and bad news for our state. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reporting on drunk driving deaths in 2014, found that 39 percent of Connecticut traffic fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver. That's the fifth highest rate in the country, and 8 percent above the national average.

The counties with the highest rate of drunk-driving related fatalities were New London, Tolland and Windham. All three had rates of over 5 fatalities per 100,000 people. Windham's rate more than doubled from 2013. The county also had the highest rate of traffic deaths overall – almost 13 per 100,000 people.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the highest percentage of drunk driving fatalities (30 percent) occurred among those between 21 and 24 years old. That was followed closely (at 29 percent) by those between 25 and 34.

However, the number of crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 15 percent from the previous year. The total number of people killed in vehicle accidents also decreased, both statewide and nationwide. When looked at over a longer term, the drop in total fatal crashes is even more significant -- down 25 percent from 2005.

It's important to note that the numbers of drivers with blood alcohol content over the legal limit in these fatal accidents could well be higher. Connecticut reported BAC in fatal crashes to federal authorities at a rate of only 54 percent -- below the national average of 71 percent. That's something that NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are trying to improve.

With increased awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence as well as greater options for getting a ride home, such as services like Uber and Lyft, one can only hope that the number of drunk driving fatalities continues to decrease. However, many people still believe that they are able to drive safely after a drink or more.

Whether that's true or not, if you're pulled over and a roadside breath test shows a BAC of .08 or more, you likely will face a DUI charge and all of the consequences that come with it. It's important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can work to ensure that the evidence against you is valid and to protect your rights under the law.

Source: Connecticut Health I-Team, "Drunk-Driving Fatalities Decline, But State Ranks High In Impaired Drivers," Lisa Chedekel, accessed July 20, 2016

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