iacquire.com recently posted a blog about 5 ways not to be fooled by statistics. The Article suggests: 1. Do A Little Bit of Math and Apply Common Sense, 2. Always Look for the Source and Check the Authority of the Source, 3. Question if the Statistics are Biased or Statistically Insignificant, 4. Question if the Statistics are Skewed Purposely or Misinterpreted, 5. Fully Utilize Your Resources to Conduct More Research. This article is particularly applicable to the DUI practitioner where false and misleading statistics abound. Often Prosecutors and Judges throw out DUI statistics such as there are 18,000 DUI deaths a year and for every DUI arrest a person drives DUI 87 times but was not caught or every few minutes another DUI death occurs. One judge actually has this on a power point presentation playing during court. The 18,000 number is from 2002 and referenced only “alcohol related” accidents which means alcohol was somehow circumstantially involved such as a broken alcohol bottle in the car, a drunk or otherwise drinking passenger or a pedestrian who had been drinking. Further, almost 72% of DUI fatalities resulted from driver’s and passengers who were not wearing seat belts which makes you wonder why failure to wear a seat belt doesn’t carry mandatory jail time or mandatory license suspension? A more recent example from NHSTA claims over 10,000 deaths from drunk drivers over .08. These numbers are often quoted as justification for legislating extreme punishment for first time DUI offenders under .15 but above .08. Looking at the data closely you find as follows:
- only 67% of that 10,000 fatality number were drivers? Over 1700 were passengers, Over 1100 of that number were other occupants of other vehicles whatever that means, and over 660 of that number were not even in a vehicle.
- almost one third of the actual fatal driver’s over .08 blood alcohol were on motorcycles
- The most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers in fatal crashes was .17
- Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) than were drivers with no alcohol (8% and 1%, respectively).
- in 2009 with over 10,000 dui fatalities, Georgia had 317 DUI fatalities and 217 of those were with blood over .15. Leading Georgia with 317 deaths where states like Texas with 1235 deaths and Florida with 770 deaths.
In Conclusion, anytime anyone throws statistics at you, make sure you know what they are selling.
-Authored by George C. Creal, Jr.