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40 Million in U.S. Driving Drunk or Drugged
Date:12/9/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Despite massive efforts to curb drunk driving, some 30 million Americans are driving drunk and another 10 million are driving drugged each year, federal officials report.

In fact, in some states the number of drunk and drugged drivers tops 20 percent, according to a report released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"This is a pretty high percentage of people that are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of something," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

There has been a small decline in the number of those driving drunk or drugged, he added. "But, even though we are making advances, we still have a ways to go," he said. "The reality is any numbers are concerning."

Other SAMHSA officials noted that thousands of people are killed and maimed yearly by drunk and drugged drivers, even though the entertainment industry, in some movies such as Due Date, portrays drunk and drugged driving as "harmless fun."

According to the survey, an average of 13.2 percent of people aged 16 and older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3 percent drove under the influence of an illegal drug in the past year.

The numbers of drunk and drugged drivers varied from state to state, the survey found. Some states with the highest levels of drunk driving include Wisconsin (23.7 percent) and North Dakota (22.4 percent). The highest rates for drugged driving are in Rhode Island (7.8 percent) and Vermont (6.6 percent).

Those with the lowest rates of drunk driving include Utah (7.4 percent) and Mississippi (8.7 percent). For drugged driving, Iowa (2.9 percent) and New Jersey (3.2 percent) had the lowest levels, the authors found.

In addition, levels of drunk and drugged driving varied among age groups, with
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