DUI Trends in the U.S. (Drinking Under the Influence of Alcohol)

What are the DUI trends in the US? (DUI is driving under the influence of alcohol. Often defined as DWI or similar initials.) Fortunately, it has dropped greatly since 1980. However, it remains a major problem. That’s because even a single DUI death is a needless tragedy.

I. The Study

DUI trendsResearchers wanted to measure DUI trends over a 15-year period. To do so, they used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health over that time. That study reports the extent of DUI in the U.S.

The researchers found that the prevalence of DUI was 15.1% in 2002–2004. However, it dropped to 8.5% in 2016–2017.

Also, the researchers found this trend in virtually all major sociodemographic groups. The exception was among older adults. Although their DUI rates have dropped, males, young adults, whites, and those with higher income are more likely to DUI.

This suggests the need to focus efforts to discourage DUI among affluent young white men.

II. Reducing DUI

Some techniques to reduce DUI are largely ineffective. They include increasing the cost of alcohol and long prison terms. On the other hand, researchers have found others to be effective. They include the following.

  • DUI trends
    Standard Drinks have the same amount of alcohol. They’re all the same to a breathalyzer!

    Automatic license revocation.  It’s the single most effective way to  reduce DUI. However, adding required jail time is even more effective.

  • Requiring ignition interlock devices. These prevent people with alcohol on their breath from starting a vehicle.
  • Vehicle impoundment.
  • Confiscating license plates.
  • DWI courts  are very effective in reducing DUI. They work with hard-core repeat offenders. They do so by treating alcohol addiction. The recidivism or failure rate of DWI and DUI courts is very low.

III. Resources for Reducing DUI Trends

The Study

Oh, S. et al. Driving under the influence of Alcohol. Findings from the NSDUH, 2002–2017. Add Behav, 2020,106439.

Web Pages

Drinking and Driving Facts and Solutions.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in The Body? 

Accuracy of Breathalyzers a Threat to Law-Abiding Drivers.


Frank, R. and White, T. Under the Influence. Putting Peer Pressure to Work. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U Press, 2020.

CO Div Prob Serv. Older Adults Driving Under the Influence. Denver: The Div, 2019.

Nolan, J. Drug Courts in Theory and in Practice. NY: Routledge, 2017.