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Wisconsin Has Highest Rate of Drunken Driving

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunken driving in the nation. More than one-quarter of Wisconsin adults admitted that they had driven under the influence of alcohol during the previous year. Men were much more likely to be involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes than women. Men ages 21 to 24 were the most likely victims of these crashes, while men ages 21 to 40 accounted for the majority of the victims. This age group showed only a slight decline from statistics gathered in the 1980s. Other age groups, especially teenagers, showed a marked decline from the 1980s. Drivers ages 16 to 20 had the biggest decline, probably due to the increase in the legal drinking age.

There were more than 44,000 convictions for drunken driving in Wisconsin for the year studied. Forty-five percent of all fatal crashes in Wisconsin were alcohol-related. According to estimates from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, alcohol-related crashes cost more than $500 million. As a result, Wisconsin toughened its DUI laws, which now require ignition interlocks, and doubled the penalties if a child younger than age 16 is present in the vehicle.

North Dakota Second Highest Rate of Drunk Driving

North Dakota had the next highest percentage of adults who admitted to DUI (24.9 percent). Minnesota (23.5 percent), Nebraska (22.9 percent), and South Dakota (21.6 percent) rounded out the top five. Regionally, the Midwest reported the highest incidence of DUI, with states from Montana to Wisconsin and as far south as Kansas reporting the highest percentages. Nationwide 15.1 percent of adults admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol. The region with the lowest percentages ranged from Mississippi and Alabama northward to West Virginia. Utah, Maine, and New Jersey also reported low percentages.

The study also provided statistics about driving under the influence of illicit drugs. Illicit drugs were defined as marijuana, hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type drugs used nonmedically. The District of Columbia led this category with 7 percent of adults reporting having operated a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Rhode Island was next (6.8 percent), followed by Massachusetts (6.4 percent), Montana (6.3 percent), and Wyoming (6.2 percent). Montana and Wisconsin had the highest percentages reported for both categories.