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Underage Drinking Statistics

Underage drinking and driving

At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we've seen firsthand the devastation caused by underage drinking. Statistics don't come close to telling the stories of people who have lost loved ones due to underage drinking, but they are a starting point in understanding how serious the problem is.

Note: These are the most recent statistics available. We will update this page as more current information is released.

National Underage Drinking Statistics

  • There are about 10.8 million underage drinkers in the United States.
  • Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.
  • 1 in 6 teens binge drink. Only 1 in 100 parents believe his or her teen binge drinks.
  • More than 1/5 of youth begin drinking before age 13.
  • Adults who first used alcohol at age 14 or younger were more than 7x as likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse compared to adults who had their first drink over the age of 21.
  • Youth drinking is correlated to adult drinking – children of parents who binge drink are 2x as likely to binge drink and meet alcohol-dependence criteria.
  • 70% of young people engage in heavy drinking by ages 19 and 20.
  • 3/4 of 12th grade students, more than 2/3 of 10th grade students, and about two in five 8th grade students have consumed alcohol in their lifetime.
  • Although 60% of teens aged 15 and 16 reported drinking within a 12 month period, only 31% of their parents believed that their child drank during that time period.
  • From age 13 to 21, the percentage of people who report binge drinking increases from an estimated 1% to 50%.
  • Most of the criminal charges in alcohol poisoning death cases were against those who obtained alcohol for underage drinkers.
  • People ages 12 to 20 drink 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S.
  • On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.
  • Male drivers are roughly twice as likely as female drivers to have BACs of .08 or higher.
  • Unrestrained drivers 16 to 20 are over 3x as likely to be alcohol-impaired than restrained drivers of that age range.

2012 Underage Drinking Statistics (Monitoring the Future)

Note: These are the most recent statistics available. We will publish more as they become available.

  • When asked how easy it would be to get alcohol, most 8th, 10th, and 12th graders said "fairly easy" or "very easy."
  • 11% of 8th graders reported drinking during the past 30 days, 3.6% to intoxication.
  • 28% of 10th graders reported drinking during the past 30 days, 14.5% to intoxication.
  • 42% of 12th graders reported drinking during the past 30 days, 28.1% to intoxication.

2011 Underage Drinking Statistics (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

How many underage drinkers are there? How much do they drink?
  • About 70% of high school students reported having at least one drink during their lives.
  • About 9.7 million 12 to 20 year olds (25.1% of the age group), reported drinking alcohol during the past 30 days.
    • About 6.1 million (15.8%) were binge drinkers (having 5+ drinks on same occasion).
    • About 1.7 million (4.4%) were heavy drinkers (having 5+ drinks on the same occasion on 5+ days in a month).
    • Most (82.9%) of the 4.7 million people who began drinking during the last year were younger than 21. About 61.2% were younger than 18.
How many high school students drink and drive?
  • Almost 1/5 of high school students reported riding in a car driven by someone who had been drinking.
  • About 8.2% of high school students reported driving after drinking alcohol one or more times.
  • 13.6% of 12th graders reported drinking and driving.
  • 9.1% of 11th graders reported drinking and driving.
  • 5.6% of 10th graders reported drinking and driving.
  • 4.7% of 9th graders reported drinking and driving.
  • More males (9.5%) reported drinking and driving than females (6.7%).
Where do teenagers drink alcohol?
  • 57% of underage drinkers reported drinking in someone else's home.
  • 28.2% of underage drinkers reported drinking in their own home.
  • About 5.1% of high school students had at least one alcoholic beverage on school property during the past 30 days.
How do teenagers obtain alcohol?
  • Among underage drinkers, 40.0% usually obtained alcohol by someone giving it to them. Of those:
    • 38.2% received it from an unrelated person over the age of 21.
    • 21.4% received it from parents, guardians, or other family members.
Do male or female teenagers drink the most?
  • Males have higher underage drinking rates than females:
    • Current drinkers: 25.6% of males, 24.6% of females
    • Binge drinkers: 17.5% of males, 14% of females
    • Heavy drinkers: 5.6% of males, 3.2% of females

2010 Underage Drinking Statistics (Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

How many underage drinkers are there? How much do they drink?
  • About 10 million people ages 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the last month.
    • About 6.5 million were binge drinkers (having 5+ drinks on same occasion).
    • About 2 million were heavy drinkers (having 5+ drinks on the same occasion on 5+ days in a month).
  • The rate of alcohol use among 12 to 20 year olds went from 28.8% in 2002 to 26.3% in 2010.
  • 3.1% of 12 and 13 year olds reported using alcohol.
  • 12.4% of 14 and 15 year olds reported using alcohol.
  • 24.6% of 16 or 17 year olds reported using alcohol.
  • 48.9% of 18 to 20 year olds reported using alcohol.
How many underage drinkers binge drink?
  • Overall, the binge drinking rate among underage drinkers dropped from 19.3% to 17%.
  • Underage binge drinking rates were:
    • 1% among 12 and 13 year olds
    • 6.7% among 14 and 15 year olds
    • 15.3% among 16 and 17 year olds
    • 33.3% among 18 to 20 year olds
  • 13.7% of males ages 12-17 reported being current drinkers.
  • 13.5% of females ages 12-17 reported being current drinkers.
Where do teens drink?
  • 55.3% of underage drinkers drank alcohol in someone else's home and 29.9% drank at their own home.
  • 81.6% of drinkers ages 12-20 reported being with two or more other people the last time they drank. 5.2% were alone.
How do teenagers get alcohol?
  • Among underage drinkers who did not purchase their own alcohol:
    • 38.9% got it from an unrelated person over the age of 21.
    • Parents, guardians, or other family members provided it 21.6% of the time.
    • Other underage people provided it 16.6% of the time.
    • 6% took it from their home.
    • 3.8% took it from someone else's home.

2009 Underage Drinking Statistics (Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

Among high school students, during the past 30 days:

  • 42% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 24% binge drank.
  • 10% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
Which teenagers drink the most?
  • Rates of underage binge drinking were higher in the Northeast and Midwest than in the South or West.
  • Rates of underage drinking and binge drinking were slightly higher at the opposite ends of the economic spectrum.
  • Among younger teens, slightly more girls reported drinking than boys did. In the mid-teen years, boys and girls reported drinking at about the same rate. Among those 18- to 20-years-old, boys drank at a higher rate than girls.
  • For those over the age of 12, males were almost twice as likely as females todrink and drive.
How do teenagers obtain alcohol?
  • Forty percent of teens said they obtained alcohol from an adult for free in the past month.
  • One in four teens said they received alcohol from an unrelated adult. One in 16 obtained it from a parent or guardian while one in 12 got it from another adult family member.
  • About 4% of surveyed teens said they got alcohol from their own home.
  • An estimated two-thirds of alcohol sellers don't ask for identification, therefore potentially selling to minors.

Underage Drinking and Driving Statistics

  • About 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking, 1,900 of those deaths are from auto accidents.
  • About one in three high school students has been a passenger in a car driven by someone who had consumed alcohol.
  • Alcohol is involved in 31% of teenage car accident fatalities.
  • There is a much better chance that an individual will drink and drive if they had their first drink prior to age 19.
  • The average blood-alcohol level of intoxicated underage car accident victims was 0.40 percent, five times the legal limit for driving.
  • Compared to every other age group, young people age 15-20 years old are more often involved in alcohol-related car accidents. Age 21 is the peak for fatal crashes.

Underage Drinking in College

  • Freshmen college students are at the greatest risk for dying from binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.
  • Almost half of all the alcohol consumed by students attending four-year colleges is consumed by underage students.
  • 83 underage college students died from alcohol poisoning from 1999 to 2005.

More Underage Drinking Statistics:

2008:

  • In 2008, young people between 18 and 20 enrolled full time in college were more likely to drink alcohol in general, binge drink, and heavily drink than those not enrolled full time.

2007:

  • In 2007, 27.9% of people between 12 and 20 years of age reported underage drinking within the past month.
  • Seventy-two percent of high school seniors reported having consumed alcohol as of 2007.
  • In 2007, about 7.8% of 16 or 17 year olds and 18.3% of 18- to 20-year-olds admitted to driving drunk within the last year.
  • Ninety-two point two percent of 12th graders, 82.6% of 10th graders, and 62% of 8th graders reported that it's "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get alcohol in 2007.
  • In 2007, for those underage drinkers who did not purchase their own alcohol the last time they drank, an unrelated person over age 21 bought it for them 37.2% of the time. Nineteen percent of the time, parents, guardians, or other family members provided it.

2006:

  • In 2006, more than half of those between 12 and 20 years of age had consumed alcohol in their lifetime and about a quarter had within the past month.
  • For drivers 15-20 years old involved in car accident in 2006, 25% had a BAC of .08 or higher.

2005:

  • About 43% of high school students surveyed had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.
  • 2,035 young people 15-20 years old were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in 2005; this accounts for 33% of all car accidents for that age group.
  • In 2005, underage drinkers was involved in 1,789 fatal car crashes.

2004:

  • During prom, graduation, and homecoming weekends, 47% of fatal car crashes of 15- to 20-year-olds involved alcohol in 2004.
Sources:
"Survey: Underage drinkers get alcohol free from adults." CNN.com. June 26, 2008.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
MADD Statistics. www.madd.org/statistics
Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking. https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/statistics.aspx
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