You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person who has experience with driving who doesn’t know that driving while under the influence of alcohol will impact their ability to drive and the safety of others. Given that few people deny the dangers of drunk driving, you might think that with that awareness comes fewer people getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. In fact, there could be far more drunk drivers on the road than you might ever have imagined, and they create significant risk for a crash that could leave you with staggering costs. Your chance of crossing paths with a drunk driver is higher than you might imagine, which means your crash risk is higher than you realize.

Drivers self-reported drinking and driving at surprisingly high rates

Surveys about behavior, especially behavior that has liability or legal risk attached to it tend to err on the low side, as people are often loath to admit inappropriate behavior, even in an anonymous survey.

Despite the known phenomenon of people underreporting their own mistakes or questionable behaviors, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got a surprisingly large number of people to admit to having driven while under the influence of alcohol during a massive research initiative in 2012.

They asked how many people had gotten behind the wheel when they knew they’d already had too much to drink, among other questions. They found that an estimated 4.2 million people knowingly drive drunk, comprising roughly 121 million drunk trips in any year.

You can hold a drunk driver accountable in addition to the charges they face

When a drunk driver causes a crash, it is common practice for state prosecutors to bring charges against that person. Just because someone got charged with a crime doesn’t mean you can’t also take them to court.

As a victim who suffered injuries or significant property damage, or is a surviving family member of someone who died in a drunk-driving crash, you have the legal right to seek compensation from a drunk driver.