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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

30 Million Americans Admit They Drive Drunk

10 Million More Get Behind the Wheel Under the Influence of Illicit Drugs, New Study Finds
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Many Young People Not Getting the Message About Dangers of Intoxication

Researchers say that rates of drunk and drugged driving differed among age groups, with 19.5% of people aged 16 to 25 saying they drove drunk, compared to 11.8% of people 26 and older.

Also, people aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of driving while on illicit drugs, 11.4%, compared to 2.8% of people 26 and older.

The findings were based on responses from more than 423,000 people 16 and over.

Other important findings of the federal research:

  • Of the 10 states with the highest drunk driving rates, five were in the Midwest: Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Three were in the Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. And two were in the West: Montana and Wyoming.
  •  Of the nine states with the lowest rates of drunk driving, four were in the South: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia; three were in the West: Idaho, New Mexico, and Utah; two were in the Northeast: New Jersey and New York.
  • 12 states, along with the country as a whole, showed significant reductions in drunk driving rates in the two periods examined.

State                 2002-2005      2006-2009

Alaska                   14.8%                   11.1

Florida                  13.7                        10.9

Idaho                    14.5                        10.3

Illinois                    16.1                       14.7

Maryland              14.9                        10.7

Michigan              18.7                         15.9

Mississippi           11.4                          8.7

Missouri               18.6                          14.8

New Mexico       13.9                           10.4

Pennsylvania     14.4                           11.8

Texas                  15.4                          13.9

Washington        15.3                           12.1

Study authors say the prevalence of impaired driving, especially in the 16-25 age group, indicates a need for continued efforts to educate drivers about the dangers. They suggest sobriety checkpoints, training for people who sell alcohol, and treatment for people convicted of impaired driving.

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