A recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discussed a strange phenomenon detected by Illinois law enforcement officials regarding drunk driving and motorcycle accidents. The data revealed that the percentage of drunk motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents during the afternoon and early evening is more than double the number of drunk drivers in any other type of motor vehicle.
The discovery was made after officials with the state analyzed crash data over the past several years and were shocked to see such a huge connection between fatal afternoon accidents and intoxicated motorcyclists. As a result of the information, police in Illinois say they are launching a major new safety campaign specifically aimed at educating motorcyclists. Law enforcement officials say the data is clear that individuals have a strong tendency to ride intoxicated in the late afternoon and the campaign, known as “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over” is aimed at warning cyclists of the legal dangers they face if they ride a motorcycle while impaired.
The data, collected by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in the hours between 3 and 6 p.m., a full 15 percent of all motorcycle deaths during that time period are related to drunk driving on the part of the motorcyclists. During that same three-hour window only six percent of passenger vehicle deaths were related to drunk driving.
The numbers get even worse later in the evening. Between 6 and 9 p.m. a surprising 24 percent of motorcycle deaths involve a drunken cyclist compared to only 11 percent of those in passenger vehicles. Illinois DOT officials say they hope to reduce the high number of motorcycle fatalities that occur each year related to drunk driving. In 2012, numbers show that motorcycle riders made up 15 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities despite only making up three percent of all registered vehicles.
The Illinois campaign will try and remind motorcyclists not only of the danger of drunk driving, but the criminal penalties associated with it. Everyone should understand that whether you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a passenger vehicle, the same laws apply. Here in Minnesota, anyone operating any type of motor vehicle is subject to arrest if they are found to be behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or greater. The fact that the DUI took place on a motorcycle will in no way diminish potential legal consequences for the crime. First time offenders in Minnesota face fines of up to $1,000, license suspension, court costs and even jail, regardless of whether that person is on a motorcycle or in a car.