California DUI Statistics


Since 1989, the California DMV is legislatively mandated to produce an annual report that analyzes data regarding driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The most recent report, the 2015 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System, analyzes data from 2003 to 2013. This report gives us an objective look at DUI realities in the state.

We can start with the rate of DUI arrests over the ten year span. From 2003 through 2013, the rate of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers has been fairly consistent at a little under 1%, with a noticeable bump in 2008 and a significant decline in 2012-2013.

DUI ARREST RATE (per 100,000 licensed drivers):

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
809 792 786 849 863 906 880 823 752 712 651

If this rate continues to trend lower, then ride sharing could quite possibly have a role in the decrease.

Unfortunately, the alcohol-related crash fatalities increased substantially in 2012 and 2013, 7.3% and 2.4% respectively. And it is, let’s say, sobering to learn that in 2012 and 2013, approximately 39% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol related.

For every driver arrested for a DUI, about 75%, end up being convicted. That rate has been consistent with a low of 73.3% in 2011 and a high of 79.4% in 2004. I would suspect that a number of those not convicted were first-time DUI arrestees who, with the help of a skilled defense attorney, were able to plea down the charge to a reckless driving or other non-DUI traffic offense. Orange County has a much higher conviction rate than most counties at 84.6%! In fact, only two California counties have a higher conviction rate: Marin (85.2%) and Ventura (84.9%). I am sure that is no reflection on Orange County defense attorneys, who are among the best in the state, but rather a demonstration of a zealous district attorney’s office.

The median age of drivers arrested for DUI in 2013 was 31 for males and 30 for females. Speaking of gender, almost 77% of the drivers arrested for DUI in 2013 were male.

The majority of DUI convictions involved a driver who tested at between .10 and .19 BAC, with the median BAC being .16%; that is double the legal BAC threshold of .08%.

Most of the drivers arrested for DUI were first offenders (73.8%). The number of repeat offenders (one DUI conviction or more within a ten year look back period) has decreased considerably since 1989. In 1989, the look back period was only seven years, yet the rate of repeat offender arrests stood at 37%. In 2012, it was 26.2%. I suspect that the increasingly strict enforcement of DUI laws and harsher penalties over the intervening years can account for the decrease. Once burned, you’d have to be addicted to alcohol to drive drunk again.

There is much more to be gleaned by this study; perhaps I’ll blog more about these statistics when the 2016 report is published. While these reports cannot explain causes, the statistics are useful for discovering trends. I look forward to seeing what they next report reveals.

William Weinberg is an experienced criminal defense attorney who is available to speak with you about your particular DUI matter. You can contact Mr. Weinberg at his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or emailing him at