Wisconsin leads the nation in drunken driving

Categories: Crime

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There are some titles we are happy to leave to the Badger State, and this is one of them: Wisconsin leads the country in drunken driving, according to a new report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The findings are the result of a nationwide survey that asked drivers whether they had gotten behind the wheel while inebriated anytime in the past year.

According to NSDUH, 23.7 percent of our neighbors to the East answered in the affirmative. North Dakota took second place, with 22.4 percent.

But if you look at the map below, you can see that Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming also had among the highest drunken driving rates in the country.

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NSDUH: Percentages of Persons Aged 16 or Older Driving under the Influence of Alcohol in the Past Year, by State: 2006 to 2009
The study got us wondering whether there was some other way to measure drunken driving, and courtesy of the University of Albany's Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics online, we found some interesting figures. In 2007, the latest year for which the data was compiled, Wisconsin also far outpaced Minnesota when it came to drunken driving arrests, 32,390 compared to 43,871.

The NSDUH survey also looked at self-reported frequencies of driving while under the influence of illicit drugs -- marijuana hash, cocaine and crack, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin and prescription-type drugs used non-medically, etc. In that category, Minnesota and Wisconsin did marginally better.

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NSDUH: Percentages of Persons Aged 16 or Older Driving under the Influence of Illicit Drugs in the Past Year, by State: 2006 to 2009
Again, it's hard to know how much stock to put in surveys like this where the responses can't be compared with other hard data. Are people being honest? Do they have an accurate sense of their capacity to drive with a nose full of blow? Are they, literally, high?

One distinction we also share with Wisconsin and a number of other states: We show no statistical change, or up down, in drunken and drugged driving since 2002. The national average, however, appears to have declined.

Click here to download the full report.

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