Drunk Driving and Illegal Immigration

I was listening to a report on NPR about how the United States was very behind the rest of the world on its attitude towards drunk driving. The blood alcohol limit in the US is 0.08%, while most of the rest of the world is 0.05%.  Which, I guess, shows just how much better Americans are at driving drunk than Europeans.

Strangely, the very next day, I came across a report on NBC’s Rock Center about an Alabama Immigration Law.  In it, one of the lobbyist of this bill was a woman who lost her sister-in-law to a drunk driver who was an illegal immigrant.  Her solution was to not curb drunk driving, but instead end illegal immigration.

This got me to think about all the anecdotal evidence conservatives have for high DUI rates caused by illegal immigration.  Which, in turn, got me to think about statistics on drunk driving.

State Total Fatalities Alcohol Related Fatalities Percent of Total
National 33,808 12,744 38%
Texas 3,071 1,437 47%
California 3,081 1,118 36%
Florida 2,558 904 35%
Pennsylvania 1,256 470 37%
North Carolina 1,314 430 33%
South Carolina 894 423 47%
Georgia 1,284 394 31%
New York 1,156 388 34%
Illinois 911 381 42%
Ohio 1,021 378 37%

The above stats are the top ten states with total drunk driving fatalities.  States in bold and red are those that are estimated to have high illegal immigrant populations (based upon a Pew Hispanic Center survey).  This table would suggest that states with high illegal immigration also have drunk driving problems.  You win Conservatives!  However, if you rank the states based upon percent alcohol-related fatalities to total driving fatalities, you’ll see a completely different picture.

State Total Fatalities Alcohol Related Fatalities Percent of Total
National 33,808 12,744 38%
Hawaii 109 59 54%
Connecticut 223 114 51%
Rhode Island 83 40 48%
Texas 3,071 1,437 47%
South Carolina 894 423 47%
Washington 492 232 47%
Kansas 386 177 46%
Louisiana 821 366 45%
Wisconsin 561 251 45%
South Dakota 131 59 45%

Now, only one of the top ten states has a high illegal immigrant population.  Conservatives are once again foiled by the Excel Sort function!  I always find it amusing when people throw out statistics that don’t really have any relationship.  With that being said, I found an interesting trend where there has been an inverse relationship between number of drunk driving fatalities by year compared to homeruns hit in Major League Baseball.

So, one could argue that the use of steroids in baseball has actually decreased the incidence of drunk driving fatalities (but they would be wrong).  The two things to take away from this are:  1) There are lies, damn lies, and statistics, and 2) I have a lot of free time.


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