More than 4 million people under age 21 drove under the influence of drugs or alcohol last year, says a new federal report quoted by Associaed Press. That’s 20 percent of Americans aged 16 to 20. Four percent of people under 21 caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol last year reported being caught for a DUI the previous year. “That’s an awful lot of kids if you think about it,” said Charlene Lewis of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which issued the report. The report, based on a large household survey of drug use, found a small drop in driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol between 2002 and 2003. In 2002, 22 percent drove under the influence; last year, it was 20 percent. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people.
The data come from face-to-face interviews in the homes of people ages 12 and up, part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. People were asked to define for themselves what driving “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol means. Young people were most likely to drink alcohol and then drive, with 17 percent admitting this. Fourteen percent said they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs, and eight percent reported driving after consuming a combination of alcohol and drugs.