Crime and Alcohol Statistics From 1998

Alcohol a Factor in 40 Percent of Violent Crimes

Sobriety Test
Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice Report on Alcohol and Crime found that alcohol abuse was a factor in 40 percent of violent crimes committed in the U.S.

Here's are some highlights of the U.S. Justice Department, Bureau of Justice Statistics April 1998 report on Alcohol and Crime:

  • About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking at the time of the offense. Among those victims who provided information about the offender's use of alcohol, about 35 percent of the victimizations involved an offender who had been drinking. About two-thirds of the alcohol-involved crimes were characterized as simple assaults.
  • Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor. Among spouse victims, 3 out of 4 incidents were reported to have involved an offender who had been drinking. By contrast, an estimated 31 percent of stranger victimizations where the victim could determine the absence or presence of alcohol were perceived to be alcohol-related.
  • In 1996, local law enforcement agencies nationwide made an estimated 1,467,300 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI). Arrests for DUI peaked in 1983 when there were 1.9 million arrests. Compared to 1983, the per capita rate of arrest for DUI in 1996 was 34 percent lower.
  • Declines in DUI arrest rates have occurred for every age group. Of particular note is the decrease in DUI arrest rates for those under the age of 21 compared to their rates of DUI arrest in the early 1980's when States had not adopted a uniform drinking age. In 1980 persons between 16 and 20 years old accounted for 10 percent of licensed drivers but 15 percent of DUI arrestees. In 1996, this age group accounted for 7 percent of drivers and 8 percent of DUI arrestees.
  • In 1996 there were 17,126 alcohol-related traffic fatalities accounting for 40.9 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year. This is a 29 percent reduction from the more than 24,000 fatalities recorded 10 years earlier when alcohol was involved in 52 percent of the fatalities.
  • An estimated 32 percent of fatal accidents involved an intoxicated driver or pedestrian (the majority are drivers, however) with a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of at least 0.10 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, the most commonly used definition of intoxication.
  • Over the last decade rates of intoxication in fatal accidents have declined across every age group. In 1986, there was about 1 driver involved in a fatal accident in which he/she was intoxicated for every 10,500 drivers; in 1996, the rate translates into about 1 intoxicated driver in a fatal accident for every 17,200 licensed drivers.
  • Among the 5.3 million convicted offenders under the jurisdiction of corrections agencies in 1996, nearly 2 million, or about 36 percent, were estimated to have been drinking at the time of the offense. The vast majority, about 1.5 million, of these alcohol-involved offenders were sentenced to supervision in the community: 1.3 million on probation and more than 200,000 on parole.
  • There was some variation in the percentage of offenders who had been using alcohol at the time of the offense across different correctional statuses: 40 percent of both jail inmates and probationers, 32 percent of State prisoners, and 29 percent of parolees.
  • Alcohol use at the time of the offense was commonly found among those convicted of public-order crimes, a type of offense most highly represented among those on probation and in jail. Among violent offenders, 41 percent of probationers, 41 percent of those in local jails, 38 percent of those in State prisons, and 20 percent of those in Federal prisons were estimated to have been drinking when they committed the crime.
  • An analysis dependence among trauma center patients found that the prevalence of alcoholism was substantially higher among vehicular crash victims and other trauma patients than among the equivalent general population group. More than half of trauma patients with a positive BAC at the time of the trauma were diagnosed as alcoholics, and nearly 1 in 7 patients who were not drinking at the time of the trauma were diagnosed as alcohol-dependent.

Continue Reading