According to a recent study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about one-fifth of young people admit to driving under the influence at one time or another. Based on data collected by the SAMHSA, the rate of intoxicated driving may seem alarmingly high, but it also indicated that there may be some progress in getting drunken drivers off public roads.
As a New Jersey DWI and drug DUI defense attorney, I can see how these finding findings from data gathered between 2006 and 2009 shows a still large percentage of younger drivers taking to the roads in an impaired or inebriated state. According to news articles, the average annual rate of DWI dropped nearly ten percent from 14.2 to 13.2 percent between 2002 and 2005. Similarly, drug DUI dropped to 4.3 percent from 4.8.
This recent survey of driving habits, which was collected from information available between 2006 and 2009, showed that 30+ million American motorists admitted to driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs in the previous year. Not surprisingly, at least from the standpoint of cases that my firm has handled in Monmouth, Ocean and Passaic County here in New Jersey, greater than 10 million drivers said that they drove while under the influence of illegal drugs.
Interestingly, the survey showed that while there was a wide variation of impaired driving rates between individual states, on the whole younger drivers were more likely to admit to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol than older. This makes some sense in that older drivers may better understand the social and professional implications that a drunken driving conviction can have on one’s personal life or business career.
On a state-by-state basis, the rates of drunken driving ranged from a high of 23.7 percent in Wisconsin to a low of 7.4 percent in Utah. New Jersey actually had one of the lowest rates of drug DUI at 3.2 percent.
Not surprisingly, the report concluded that while drug and alcohol DUI rates have shown a drop over recent years, drunken or impaired driving is still a problem all across the U.S. Particularly in the group aged 16 to 25 years, DWI continues to be an ongoing concern for public health and safety authorities. The study reportedly calls for increased media campaigns, service training and responsible alcohol sales, among others. Coupled with additional DUI roadblocks and drunken driving checkpoints, plus substance abuse assessment and treatment, these efforts may help to reduce the rates of impaired driving.
DUI: 20% of Young Drivers Admit to Drunk Driving, STAHO.com, December 9, 2010