An April 2008 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that a quarter of all drivers in certain states admitted to driving under the influence last year. The report also found 15.1 percent of the nation’s drivers age 18 and older drove under the influence at least one time in 2007.
Nationwide, an estimated 30.5 million people age 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once last year according to SAMHSA.
Wisconsin ranked first in the nation at 26.4%, followed by North Dakota (24.9%) and Minnesota (23.5%). Utah ranked the lowest at 9.5% and it was the lone state where fewer than 10 percent of adult drivers said they had driven under the influence. Many Utah residents are Mormon, which forbids the use of alcohol.
Virginia ranked 36th with 13.6% while neighboring states were even lower: North Carolina ranked 48th (10.4%) and West Virginia, 49th (10.1%). But the District of Columbia ranked 10th at 19.1%.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 16,700 deaths in 2004 were caused by accidents involving motorists who had consumed alcohol. The NHTSA said driving under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs is one of the leading sources of preventable-death-by-injury in the nation.
Over the last decade however, impaired drivers involved in alcohol-related crashes has remained the same -- from 12,348 in 1996 to 12,491 in 2006. These statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation involves drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher.
“This report highlights the enormous public health risk posed by this problem – one threatening the lives of many Americans every day,” SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D., said. “By highlighting the scope and nature of this problem in each state, we can help communities best use their efforts and resources to address this preventable menace.”