Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

30 Million Americans Admit They Drive Drunk

10 Million More Get Behind the Wheel Under the Influence of Illicit Drugs, New Study Finds
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 10, 2010 -- About 30 million Americans a year admit to driving while drunk, and 10 million more say they get behind the wheel when under the influence of illicit drugs, according to new federal research.

On average, 13.2% of all people aged 16 and older drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year, and 4.3% drove while on illicit drugs, says a new survey from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as SAMHSA.

Although the rate of drunk and drugged driving decreased slightly in the past few years, from 14.6% to 13.2%, the problem is still enormous and steps need to be found to reduce it more, researchers say.

Rates of Drunk and Drugged Drivers Drop Slightly

The rate of drugged driving also dropped, from 4.8% of drivers in 2002-2005 to 4.3% in 2006-2009, according to the SAMHSA report. “Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, says in a news release. “Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement, and public outreach efforts.”

Still, she says, the nation “must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way.”

Alarming Findings

Gil Kerlikowske, MA, director of National Drug Control Policy, says the survey reveals that “an alarmingly high percentage of Americans” drive with drugs in their systems.

“At a time when drug abuse is on the rise, it is crucial that communities act today to address the threat of drugged driving as we work to employ more targeted enforcement and develop better tools to detect the presence of drugs among drivers,” he says in the news release.

The national survey found significant differences in substance use and driving among the states.

Among key findings:

  • States with the highest levels of drunk driving in the past year were Wisconsin, 23.7%, and North Dakota, 22.4%.
  • The highest rates of drugged driving in the past year were in Rhode Island, 7.8%, and Vermont, 6.6%.
  • States with the lowest rates of drunk driving were Utah at 7.4% and Mississippi at 8.7%.
  • Iowa at 2.9% and New Jersey at 3.2% had the lowest levels of drugged driving in the past year.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting