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Public Order Crimes

Alcohol And Crime

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the United States. Approximately eight out of ten people aged twelve and over consumed alcohol some time in their life and half describe themselves as current drinkers. For those aged twelve to seventeen, 41 percent have used alcohol and 21 percent report being current drinkers. These percentages increase with age, topping out in the twenty-six to thirty-four-year-old age bracket where 90 percent confirmed drinking alcohol and 63 percent were current drinkers.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. government began keeping statistics on the relationship between alcohol and crime. After twenty years, at the start of the twenty-first century, those statistics revealed a clear tie between alcohol and crime. Drinking alcohol does not lead people to commit a crime; the vast majority of those who consume alcohol do not exhibit criminal behavior. Approximately four out of ten crimes, however, involve the use of alcohol. Alcohol also plays a role in four out of ten fatal automobile accidents.

As reported in the National Crime Victimization Survey maintained by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, persons who were victimized by an intimate acquaintance such as a former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, reported alcohol was involved 66 percent of the time. Those victimized by a current spouse listed alcohol as a factor in 75 percent of the offenses. In contrast, about 31 percent of violent stranger-to-stranger criminal acts involved alcohol.

The Department of Justice reports two-thirds of alcohol related crimes are assaults. Seven out of ten crimes associated with alcohol occurred in a private residence, while one in ten occurred in a bar or restaurant. The majority of incidents happened at night, peaking between 11 P.M. and 1 A.M. The fewest occurred between 7 and 9 A.M. Eighty percent of the time, the weapon used in the incident was hands, feet, or fists. Knives were involved in about 7 percent of alcohol related violent incidents and firearms about 4 percent of the time.

Highway patrol officers, checking for drunk drivers at a roadblock in North Carolina, 1997. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawPublic Order Crimes - Prostitution, Abnormal Sexual Behavior, Pornography, Alcohol And Crime, Driving Under The Influence (dui)