Underage Drinking Statistics
At Edgar Snyder & Associates, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation caused by underage drinking. Every year, senseless tragedies happen throughout the school year — especially around prom and graduation.
Looking for more statistics? View our accident statistics page.
General Statistics (According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism):
- There are about 10.8 million underage drinkers in the United States.
- Seventy percent of young people engage in heavy drinking by ages 19 and 20.
- Three-fourths of 12th grade students, more than two-thirds of 10th grade students, and about two in five 8th grade students have consumed alcohol (more than a few sips) in their lifetime.
- Nearly half (45%) of 12th graders have used alcohol in the past month, which is more than cigarettes and marijuana combined.
- 29% of 12th grade students, 22% of 10th grade students, and 11% of 8th grade students have engaged in binge drinking.
- Many teenagers are misinformed about alcohol; about one-third of teens incorrectly think that one shot of liquor has more alcohol than a 12-oz can of beer.
- 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.
- During the past month, 26.4% of underage people age 12-20 used alcohol.
- During the past month, 17.4% of underage people age 12-20 participated in binge drinking.
- Among underage drinkers, 30.8% paid for the alcohol the last time they drank. Among those who did not pay for the alcohol they drank, 37.4% got it from an unrelated person age 21 or older; 21.1% received it from a parent, guardian, or other of-age adult family member.
- People age 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S.
- On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.
- In 2009, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month.
- Thirty-two percent of drivers 16 to 20 with invalid driver licenses had BACs .08 or higher.
- Male drivers were roughly twice as likely as female drivers to have BACs of .08 or higher.
- Unrestrained drivers 16 to 20 were over 3 times as likely to be alcohol-impaired than restrained drivers of that age range.
2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Statistics
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.
- 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 to drink and drive.
Obtaining Alcohol Statistics:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- During prom, graduation, and homecoming weekends, 47% of fatal car crashes of 15- to 20-year-olds involved alcohol in 2004.