Selected SLC Research


Policy Analysis | May 1, 2008

In the South, what percentage of the adult population drives while intoxicated or under the influence of illicit drugs?

A recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that in some Midwestern states up to a quarter of the adult population drives while intoxicated.

Based on the combined 2004 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health data from current drivers aged 18 or older, an average of 15.1% had driven under the influence of alcohol during the past year and 4.7% had driven under the influence of illicit drugs.

The 16 Southern states fared rather well in the national survey, with none among the top 10 most dangerous states, and only a few in the top 20. On average, 13.2 percent and 4.5 percent of Southern adults had driven under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, respectively.

Percentages of Current Drivers1 Aged 18 or Older Reporting Driving Under the
Influence of Alcohol in the Past Year, by State: 2004, 2005, and 2006

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State Percent SE (%) 2 State Percent SE (%) 2
1 Missouri 18.0 1.03 9 Florida 13.5 0.58
2 Louisiana 16.0 0.96 10 Tennessee 12.4 1.12
3 Texas 15.7 0.63 11 Mississippi 11.9 1.05
4 South Carolina 14.7 1.17 12 Alabama 11.4 0.97
5 Maryland 14.7 1.10 13 Arkansas 10.8 0.92
6 Oklahoma 13.7 1.15 14 Kentucky 10.4 1.07
7 Virginia 13.6 1.15 15 North Carolina 10.4 1.04
8 Georgia 13.5 1.32 16 West Virginia 10.1 0.96
Average 13.2 1.01

Percentages of Current Drivers1 Aged 18 or Older Reporting Driving Under the
Influence of Illicit Drugs in the Past Year, by State: 2004, 2005, and 2006

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State Percent SE (%) 2 State Percent SE (%) 2
1 Tennessee 5.6 0.63 9 South Carolina 4.5 0.54
2 Arkansas 5.4 0.61 10 Mississippi 4.4 0.59
3 Missouri 5.1 0.64 11 North Carolina 4.4 0.54
4 Virginia 4.7 0.66 12 West Virginia 4.2 0.57
5 Florida 4.7 0.30 13 Texas 4.1 0.25
6 Oklahoma 4.7 0.63 14 Maryland 3.7 0.49
7 Louisiana 4.7 0.53 15 Kentucky 3.6 0.51
8 Georgia 4.5 0.66 16 Alabama 3.4 0.43
Average 4.5 0.54

1 Driving status is determined by a respondent's answers to questions on seatbelt use. Persons who indicated either wearing or not wearing a seatbelt when driving were defined as current drivers; those who responded that they did not drive were defined as nondrivers. Persons with unknown responses or those who reported not driving were excluded from the analysis. Approximately 94 percent of individuals aged 18 or older who responded to this question were classified as current drivers.

2 The standard error (SE) is a measure of these sampling variability of an estimate, where smaller values represent greater precision and larger values represent less precision.

Source: Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2004-2006