Who is the average drunk driver in Kern County

    DUI breath test. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

    Kern County roads are a dangerous place where drunk drivers are just about everywhere.

    But who is the biggest culprit?

    Eyewitness News examined more than 30 years of DUI data from the Kern County District Attorney's Office and discovered not only what the average Kern County drunk driver looks like, but also some alarming trends.

    Drunk driving is a choice – a choice plaguing Kern County. A choice Assistant District Attorney Jim Simson said is as bad as planning a murder.

    "Everybody knows this crime is dangerous. Everybody does," Simson said. "You're not driving (a) car, you're loading a weapon."

    Still, every day a lot of people choose to have a few drinks and load that weapon.

    "They have absolutely no idea of just how many DUI drivers are out there on the roads with them."

    On average, every day in Kern County, 11 of those people are caught and arrested. So, what do those people look like?

    Who are the people choosing to make our communities and our roads dangerous places?

    Looking at decades of Kern County DUI data, we know the average drunk driver is young. Since 1992, 18- to 30-year-old drivers committed more DUIs than all other ages combined.

    We also can see most drunk drivers are men. Since 1986, in Kern County 86 percent of drunk drivers were men.

    However, recently women are catching up. Since 2011, women have been arrested in 20 percent of DUIs, compared to just 7 percent in 1986.

    Lastly, we looked at race. For the last several years white people are arrested for DUI more than any race in Kern County.

    However, not by much. Basically whites, Hispanics, and blacks each commit a third of Kern County DUIs.

    No matter how old they are, what gender they are, or what color their skin is, Simson believes all drunk drivers have one thing in common.

    "I think it's something that the public needs to know. They need to understand it on a, on a deep, visceral level," Simson said. "This is a crime that is committed by people who simply don't care."

    Just to go a little more in depth – that stat about more women being arrested for drunk driving. That's a trend we're only seeing for DUI and public intoxication. For all other crimes, women’s arrest levels are flat.

    Also, while people 30 years old and under commit most of DUIs, the average age of a drunk driver is 34 years old. Which means people aren't aging out of driving drunk and continuing to do it as they get older.

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