FILE - Loouisiana State Police

Since the passage of the National Minimum Legal Drinking Act in 1984, the legal age at which someone can purchase and consume alcohol in the U.S. is 21. Despite the higher legal drinking age and stringent punishments for offenders, underage drinking and its associated consequences are still a major problem.

In 2017, 29.8 percent of teens engaged in underage drinking. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 623,000 teenagers ages 12-17 also suffer from an alcohol use disorder (abuse or dependence), accounting for 2.5 percent of individuals in this age group.

Research indicates that drinking underage can lead to a range of negative consequences, including issues with adolescent brain development, increased risk of sexual assault, and increased risk of traffic fatalities. While 3.1 percent of adults report driving after having too much to drink, 5.5 percent of teens nationwide have reported driving after drinking any alcohol, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that statistics on teen alcohol use and drunk driving are improving. The percentage of teens who reported using alcohol declined from more than 50 percent in 1991 to less than 30 percent in 2017. Similarly, 16.5 percent of U.S. teens in 2017 reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol—a decline of more than 23 percentage points during the same time period.

Driving under the influence endangers not only the driver’s life, but also the lives of passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road. Drunk driving traffic fatalities represent almost a third of all driving fatalities. Among the 37,133 motor vehicle fatalities in 2017, 10,874 involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

At the state level, there isn’t a statistically significant correlation between drunk driving fatality rates and the proportion of adults who report driving after having too much to drink. However, there is a significant correlation between state-level drunk driving fatality rates and the proportion of high school students who report drinking and driving. States with larger shares of high school students who drink and drive tend to have more drunk driving deaths per capita.

For example, only 2.8 percent of high schoolers in Utah report driving after drinking alcohol, and there are only 1.7 drunk driving traffic deaths per 100,000 people in the state. By contrast, in Arkansas, 10.7 percent of students report driving after drinking, and the state’s drunk driving fatality rate is 4.8. Nationwide, the number of drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people is 3.4.

In addition to the health and safety concerns associated with underage drinking, there are staggering financial costs as well. The CDC estimates that underage drinking costs the U.S. around $24 billion a year. Similarly, motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol amount to more than $44 billion per year. The financial costs of alcohol-related collisions encompass healthcare, property damage, and lost workplace productivity.

To find where teens are most likely to drive under the influence, researchers at CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). They ranked states by the percentage of teens who reported driving after drinking one or more times in the past 30 days. Here’s what they found.

15 States With the Most Teens Drinking and Driving

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Idaho

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.0%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 15.9%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 26.5%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 2.9%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 3.5 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

14. Arizona

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.2%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 19.2%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 33.1%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 2.1%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 4.0 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

13. Connecticut

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.3%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 17.2%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 30.4%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 3.2%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 3.4 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

12. Nebraska

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.3%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 22.1%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 24.4%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 5.1%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 3.6 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

11. Kansas

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.4%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 18.6%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 29.9%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 2.9%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 3.6 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Iowa

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.5%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 20.8%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 27.6%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 5.2%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 2.9 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. New Mexico

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.5%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 20.4%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 26.2%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 2.0%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 5.9 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. North Dakota

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 6.5%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 16.5%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 29.1%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 4.7%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 6.2 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. District of Columbia

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 7.0%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 22.1%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 20.5%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 3.3%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 2.3 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Texas

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 7.1%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 20.8%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 26.8%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 4.3%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 5.2 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Vermont

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 7.3%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 17.9%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 33.0%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 2.9%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 2.9 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. South Carolina

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 7.5%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 18.1%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 25.4%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 3.1%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 6.3 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Montana

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 7.6%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 19.8%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 33.1%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 3.7%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 5.4 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Louisiana

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 10.0%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 28.2%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 34.0%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 4.6%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 4.7 per 100k people

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Arkansas

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: 10.7%
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: 26.3%
  • Teens who drank alcohol: 25.7%
  • Adults who drove after having too much to drink: 3.1%
  • Drunk driving traffic deaths: 4.8 per 100k people

Methodology & Full Results

Data on teen drinking patterns is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High School Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). Details for the reported metrics are described below:

  • Teens who drove when they had been drinking: in a car or other vehicle, one or more times during the 30 days before the survey, among students who had driven.
  • Teens who rode with a driver who had been drinking: in a car or other vehicle, one or more times during the 30 days before the survey.
  • Teens who drank alcohol: at least one drink of alcohol, on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey.

Adult drinking and driving statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and alcohol-related traffic death statistics are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). For the purpose of this report, drunk driving fatalities are those in which the highest driver blood alcohol concentration involved in the crash was above the legal limit of 0.08.

All data is for 2017, the most recent available year. States are ordered by the percentage of teens who report driving when they had been drinking. The CDC does not provide this data for the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wyoming.