Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Drunk driving risk factors

Alcohol concentration

Even at an Alcohol Content (AC) level as low as 0.04%, alcohol in your blood system affects driving ability and crash likelihood, according to Special Report 216, "Zero Alcohol" by the Transportation Research Board.

  • The probability of a crash begins to increase significantly at 0.05 AC and climbs rapidly after about 0.08%.
  • For drivers with AC's above 0.15% on weekend nights, the likelihood of being killed in a single-vehicle crash is higher than it is for non-drinking drivers.


Alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin are much more likely to involve men than women.

  • Among fatally injured male drivers in the year 2012, 34% of those tested had AC's of 0.08% or more and women tested for .08 or above were 19%. These numbers are taken from all of the fatalities that were tested.
  • Men, ages 21-24, are the most likely drivers to be killed in a crash when their blood alcohol content is above 0.08.


Male drivers ages 21-40 make up the majority of fatally injured drivers with high AC's. This group has shown only a modest decline in the 1980s in the percentage of fatally injured drivers with high ACs.

In contrast, other age groups, particularly teenagers, show substantial declines. Drivers in the 16-20 year-old group showed the biggest improvement throughout the 1980s, due largely to the 21-year-old alcohol purchase laws.

Wisconsin Driver Age and Crash Involvement 2012
Age Total number
in crashes
Number who had been
drinking in crashes
Unknown 15,408 8.7% 13 0.3%
14 and under 72 0.0% 0 0.0%
15 to 19 18,147 10.2% 288 5.8%
20 to 24 22,224 12.5% 1,264 25.4%
25 to 44 58,111 32.8% 2,079 41.8%
45 to 64 47,386 26.8% 1,197 24.0%
65 to 84 14,361 8.1% 131 2.6%
85 and up 1,385 0.8% 6 0.1%
Totals 177,094 100.0% 4,978 100.0%

Questions about the content of this page:
Tina Bondurant, tina.bondurant@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: April 29, 2014

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