What time of day are you most likely to encounter drunk drivers?

Drunk driving is illegal and very negligent. Even those who frequently drink can struggle to properly control a vehicle when they overindulge one Friday night. People can drink and drive anytime. Even when the bars close and grocery stores won’t sell alcohol, people could drink what they already have purchased.

While there is no surefire way to avoid all drunk drivers, being aware of the times of day you are most likely to encounter one can help you better screen your surroundings for the most dangerous elements.

The evening, late night and early morning are most dangerous

You may have heard that drunk driving tends to spike around the same hours that people go out to drink socially. That claim actually is not an urban legend but rather a factual statement with a basis in statistical evidence.

The time of day has a major impact on how likely you are to be in a wreck caused by a drunk driver. Between 9 a.m. and noon, only 9% of wrecks involve a driver impaired by alcohol. By 6 p.m., that rate of alcohol impairment in crashes increases to 33%. Between 9 p.m. and midnight, 46% of crashes involve at least one driver affected by alcohol, and between midnight and 3 a.m., 66% of collisions involve alcohol.

Some of those early morning drinkers may be third-shift workers or even those getting back behind the wheel the morning after having too much to drink when their blood alcohol concentration is still over the legal limit and high enough to affect their safety at the wheel.

What happens after a drunk driving crash?

Some people mistakenly think that a drunk driving crash leaves them without insurance coverage as an insurance company will not pay for a claim if the crash is the result of someone’s illegal behavior. With the exception of certain policies that specifically exclude drunk driving, most motor vehicle liability policies will compensate someone hurt by a drunk driver.

You can increase your protection against such crashes by carrying more coverage on your own policy, including underinsured motorist protection and collision coverage. You may be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance and your own policy. If you still have expenses that insurance won’t cover, then you may have grounds to take the impaired driver to court to seek reimbursement in a personal injury claim.

Identifying common collision risk factors and adjusting your driving habits to account for them will reduce your chances of a serious car wreck.