Survey: Northern states worst for drunken driving

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The Dakotas, Idaho and Wisconsin each ranked among the highest consumption of alcohol in 2009, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In North Dakota, state police and sheriffs are cracking down on underage drinking during the season for prom and graduation this year.”

“If we find them consuming or in possession of alcohol, they could end up in court and ordered to pay fines,” Bismarck Police Lt. Jason Stugelmeyer said this month.

Montana is focused on discouraging impaired driving, after having 33 people die in traffic accidents during January, February and March, which double the number during the same period in 2015. Nearly three-quarters of the state’s fatalities during the last decade were because of impaired driving or failing to use seatbelts, according to the state Transportation Department.

The percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking too much during the previous month was 3.4% in Montana, compared to 1.9% nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said from a 2012 survey.

“We are seeing an early surge in fatalities with every indication that things could get worse,” Mike Tooley, state transportation director, said last month.

Meanwhile, Utah, where more than two-thirds of the residents are Mormons who eschew alcohol, ranked lowest for drunken-driving incidents, according to the study. That state was followed closely by Indiana and Florida, which tied, Georgia and Minnesota.

The rankings were based on statistics from the FBI, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Kids Count Data Center and DrivingLaws.org.

For example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported a $132 billion cost in 2009 from drunken-driving incidents, with about half based on monetary costs and the rest on quality-of-life losses, based on research from the Pacific Institute for Research andEvaluation.

The categories that contributed to CarInsuranceComparison.com’s rankings included:

–Driving fatalities, which counted for 35% of a state’s score. The category counted motorists with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, which violates all state laws, and a lesser amount of alcohol.

–Arrests for driving-under-the-influence, which counted for 25% of a state’s score. The category included minors and adults at least 18 years old, divided by the population.

–Penalties for driving-under-the-influence, which counted for 20%v of a state’s score. The category was based on jail time, license suspensions, and maximum fines for first, second and third offenses.

–The cost per fatality, which counted for 10% of a state’s score.

–Types of laws to discourage drunken driving, which counted for 10% of a state’s score.

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