Alcohol

The Answer: Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota

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The question: What states have the highest rates of drunk driving?

Utah had the lowest incidence of drunken driving. It was the only state where fewer than 10 percent of adult motorists reported driving under the influence. Following closely behind were a slew of Southern states that often fare poorly when it comes to government health statistics. This time, however, they're serving as models. West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina all had drunken driving rates for the prior year of less than 11 percent.

The report on drunken driving relies on data obtained from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey, based on a scientific random sample of households, asked 127,283 adults in 2004, 2005 and 2006 whether they had driven under the influence in the past year. Health experts say the state-by-state breakdowns support other surveys showing that residents in northern states are more likely to engage in heavy alcohol consumption.

As for driving under the influence of what the government still calls "illicit" drugs:

The federal government also released estimates of driving under the influence of illicit drugs. The rates were highest in the District of Columbia, 7 percent; Rhode Island, 6.8 percent; and Massachusetts, 6.4 percent.

The states with the lowest rates for driving under the influence of illicit drugs within the past year were New Jersey, 3.2 percent; Alabama, 3.4 percent; and North Dakota and South Dakota, 3.5 percent.

Over the past decade, alcohol-related accdients—defined as those involving a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher—remained flat in absolute numbers: 12,348 in 1996 to 12,491 in 2006. Factoring in driving miles, which this story doesn't do, would mean a decline in relative terms.

More here.

What percentage of Hit & Runners have driven drunk or under the influence of "illicit" drugs? Do you feel left out if you live in a state that wasn't mentioned above? Does this news put the hurt on the "Wisconsin is for Cheese Lovers" tourism campaign?

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  1. The federal government also released estimates of driving under the influence of illicit drugs. The rates were highest in the District of Columbia, 7 percent; Rhode Island, 6.8 percent; and Massachusetts, 6.4 percent.

    I can personally vouch for Rhode Island being a state full of stoners. And since we have little public transit to speak of, those stoners have to drive like everyone else.

  2. when it’s 40 below outside, a person needs a bit of antifreeze in the bloodstream.

  3. Who the hell would answer honestly if somebody called their house wanting to know when they last got shit faced and went for a spin?

    “Well, never sir. Jesus is my copilot!”

  4. Wisconsin is very openly for Beer Lovers. Not sure if they’ve changed this but you used to have to stop at the border and chug one just like with softball rules.

  5. As JLM says, that is survey data. People lie, to themselves if not to pollsters. If you want something more reliable, check the crash data, which is pretty good for deceased drivers if nothing else. By that measure, Utah looks about the same, while everyone else is lying lying lying. Score another point for Utah: sober and honest.

  6. The rates were highest in the District of Columbia

    Wow, I am amazed that the politicians were this honest with a phone poll.

  7. If I was married to a Swede I’d be drinking all the time to. 😉 Little Wisconsin humor.

  8. Do they mean, like, EVER? I used to drive drunk, stoned, tripping, etc. during college sometimes, but that was close to 20 years ago. Now I limit myself to two drinks when I’m out (four if the wife’s driving), and get fucked up only at home.

  9. What percentage of Hit & Runners have driven drunk or under the influence of “illicit” drugs?

    Incapacitated drunk: 2 (high school)
    High as a kite: 4 (3 high school, 1 college)
    Technically drunk under bullshit 0.08: Hundreds
    Technically high under zero tolerance: Hundreds
    Wrecks while drunk: 0
    Arrests while DUI: 0
    DUI checkpoints (drunk or sober): 0
    Breathalyzers: 1
    (but it was administered three times and by the smallest state trooper ever. I’m 5’10” and he had to get on tippy-toes.)

  10. Wisconsin is very openly for Beer Lovers. Not sure if they’ve changed this but you used to have to stop at the border and chug one just like with softball rules.

    When I moved out of Wisconsin in 1994, I had to chug a beer at the border on the way out, so it was still in affect then.

    I havent even been back in the state since then.

  11. I’ve been thinking about getting one of those portable breathalyzers. Does anyone here have one? Do they work? And does having one mean you just work really hard to break your drunkenness record?

  12. Warty, you don’t need to buy an unreliable appliance; using the table linked below is just about as accurate.
    http://www.ou.edu/oupd/bac.htm

  13. There have been 2 times in my life where I drove thinking “you know, I probably shouldnt be driving right now” due to alcohol. Both times I had interactions with cops.

    The first, in Wisconsin, a cop followed my for a few miles beforing turning off. I think it was coincidence, but Im sure if I had been weaving, I would have been pulled over anyway.

    The second, a cop was sitting in the middle turn lane with his lights off, late on a weekend night, just outside a heavy bar area. In other words, probably stalking drunks. Once again, I think I was probably okay.

    I did get stopped at a DUI checkpoint once – but I was stone cold sober.

    While I dont think I was legally drunk (old .10 standard) either time, I dont do that anymore. 2 drink max if Im driving later.

  14. Okie,

    That link has “imported beer” as a choice in its dropdown. Just for that, its totally inaccurate. Yeah, lets treat a British bitter and a Belgian quad exactly the same!

    Morons.

  15. I’m with JLM. The poll answers are bullshit. I know I’m not answering that one honestly if they call me. Well, technically, I wouldn’t answer the phone, but the principle applies.

    And since this is a public forum, I’ll state that I have never had a DUI appear on my driving record. And really, with insurance companies these days, that’s what counts.

  16. So how do 6.8% driving while high square with the government’s reported 5% using illicit drugs in the first place? Could the DEA be misrepresenting facts?!

  17. What percentage of Hit & Runners have driven drunk or under the influence of “illicit” drugs?

    Under the age of 30: Couldn’t even begin to guess.

    Over the age of 30: Dunno, maybe a half dozen times. All in Wisconsin, after a visit to the Essen Haus in Madison. Probably the only bar in the country that has Optimator on tap.

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  19. RC,

    Not true. Come on down to Houston sometime.

  20. Second that vote on the G-Man, T. Best tap wall I’ve ever seen. Probably explains why I’m an off and on nearly 20 year veteran of the place…

  21. The poll results illustrate the irrational honesty of northerners more than it does relative numbers of driving drunkards or druggies.

    When I was in college, I had a prof who showed an anonymous poll where 89% of men admitted to having masturbated at some point in their life.

    The lesson?

    “This proves that 11% of respondents will lie for an anonymous poll.”

  22. Further libertarian angle: THe high incidence of drink driving in Wisconsin is largely due to the fact that the people of that state are a bunch of fun-loving alcoholics (we put the WI in DWI!). BUT! This is exacerbated by the collusion of nanny-state ban-everything types and the mafia-like powers of the Wisconsin Tavern League, both of whom (I’m convinced) are behind the bizarre regulations that stand between a Wisconsinite and her right to get shitfaced at home (can’t buy packaged liquor at the bar, can’t buy liquor ANYWHERE after 9PM, etc.).

  23. And the Essen Haus rules!

  24. Im pretty sure I have seen Optimator on tap in New Albany, IN.

    My fave beer bar

  25. I lived in Saskatchewan for a while.

    Given that North Dakota is quite similar I can imagine I’d drink a lot if I lived there too.

  26. I’ve never driven while intoxicated, but I’ve driven while very, very tired, which I think is equally dangerous, but can’t really be tested for.

  27. Warty, you don’t need to buy an unreliable appliance; using the table linked below is just about as accurate.
    http://www.ou.edu/oupd/bac.htm

    No way that’s accurate. The number of drinks dropdown only goes up to 8.

  28. robc,

    We have on it tap in Lexington, but it’s not an all the time thing. Pazzo’s and Marikka’s if your ever in town and parched.

  29. I recently drove “drunk” under these laws. Anyway, the police didn’t see fit to stop me as I wasn’t bobbing or weaving and I was going the speed limit.

  30. I thought for sure the question would be:
    “Name five states you never have any intention of visiting.”
    I would add Mississippi.

  31. I think what I get from this is that people from West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina are more likely to lie to pollsters than people from Wisconsin, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

    So apparently did a couple of other Hit&Runners.

  32. “Name five states you never have any intention of visiting.”

    You must not be a hunter, ed. All five of those states have top-flight hunting for either deer or birds.

  33. [beep] [beep] [beep]

    “Name five states you never have any intention of visiting.”

    [BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP]

  34. I surprised Iowa is not up there. I don’t think I know a person who hasn’t driven drunk. It is like a law you are forced to break. How else do you get home from the bar????

  35. SugarFree,

    Marikka’s is on my list of places I need to get to. Havent heard of Pazzo’s.

    I try to avoid Lexington as much as possible, however. Worst road system ever(and I lived in Atlanta). What kind of idiots put lights on their frickin loop road? Lexington doesnt have enough people to have traffic problems.

  36. Mmmm… Essen Haus…

  37. How else do you get home from the bar????

    After all, you’re in no condition to walk, are you?

  38. You must not be a hunter, ed

    Correct, though I killed my share of fish when I was a kid in northern New York (a state I will visit soon though no hunting is planned, unless beer drinking counts as hunting).

  39. robc,

    I agree with the traffic problems being ridiculous, but it’s not actually Lexingtonians fault. We are the banking and shopping center for almost all of Eastern Kentucky. 50,000 hicks descending on town every weekend kills our infrastructure.

    Pazzo’s is a college bar near campus. They have a rotating selection of 37 beers on tap. It is often insanely busy, but it is very laid back when schools out (9 days and counting…)

  40. Concur on Pazzo’s – 1st class beer menu and excellent Pizza.

    Flying Saucer in various cities usually a good call (Charlotte, Houston, Ft. Worth, Nashville)

    Long gone Lyon’s Pub in Dublin, CA was all time fave. Fabulous overall menu of doms/imports and good selection of hand pumped and barley wines.

  41. There have been a few times where I’ve driven and felt like I hadn’t waited long enough or I’d had a bit more than I’d realized, and wasn’t comfortable with it. I’ve never driven sloppy drunk. I have certainly driven over the bullshit .05 mark quite a bit, but am not sure about .08.

    Yeah, most Flying Saucers should have either Optimator or Salvator on tap, plus some of the big belgians like Maredsous (although those they serve in smaller portions, unlike the Doppelbocks). In Dallas, the Bavarian Grill has both Salvator and Optimator on tap all the time. This is a blessing and a curse. Once, I went in, expecting to meet some friends. I ordered an Optimator. The waitress asked if I wanted a half-liter or a full liter. I knew that they served both .3s and .5s, and mentally translated those to ‘half-pints’ and ‘full-pints’. While half-pints have their place, a full pint is far more satisfying, so I respoded, “Of course I want a full liter!” I was then suddenly presented with an enormous stein full of tasty, malty death.

    Needless to say I crashed on a friend’s couch that night.

  42. SugarFree,

    Blame the Mountain Folk all you want, most of my problems in Lexington have been caused by people with Fayette plates. Except for saturdays in the fall, then the problems are caused by too many Louisvillians heading to Commonwealth (Ive been part of that problem myself, many a time). Mason Headley just isnt wide enough to get everyone from Louisville to the stadium.

    I-64 bumper to bumper at 85 MPH all the way home is fun too.

  43. If Vicodin counts, I have. I’m in PA.

  44. What percentage of Hit & Runners have driven drunk or under the influence of “illicit” drugs?

    Prior to getting married and turning 30: plenty.

    Since then, once.

    Depends on how you define driving “drunk” — on Molokai, driving drunk is defined as drinking Bud Heavies instead of Bud Lights like responsible folks.

  45. According to this

    Utah has by far the lowest percentage of traffic fatalities related to alcohol (22%), while a slew of states are in the mid-to-high 40s, topped by Wisconsin (49%) and Hawaii (48%).

  46. “As JLM says, that is survey data. People lie, to themselves if not to pollsters. If you want something more reliable, check the crash data, which is pretty good for deceased drivers if nothing else. By that measure, Utah looks about the same, while everyone else is lying lying lying. Score another point for Utah: sober and honest.”

    Second this. People lie in surveys to begin with but with a topic like this denial is widespread. People who drive drunk rarely admit it even anonymously and especially in a phone survey.

    Also from my anecdotal experience old people lie a lot more about how much they drink and drive than young people do. When a 19 year old college student does it he’s “wild and crazy”. When a 55 year old professional does it it’s depressing.

  47. In college, I once drove while stoned on MJ.

    When I was 25, I once drove when I was way past the legal limit. Someone flashed their lights behind me as I was crossing a bridge. I pulled over to a parking lot and they follwed me. I got out of the car and they asked, “Dude, are you all right?’

    “yeah, why?”

    “Cuz, you were driving 15 miles per hour and the limit is 45.”

    I had been trying to be cautious, but it was then I knew just how drunk (too drunk) I was.

  48. Given that North Dakota is quite similar I can imagine I’d drink a lot if I lived there too.

    Jesus, man…you try riding out the winter in Bismarck (burp!)…

  49. Jim Walsh

    No thanks, I already rode out three winters in Regina.

  50. People in D.C. drive?

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