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Underage Drinking Across the United States

Using alcohol in ways that are illegal and irresponsible is both risky and dangerous to those who partake in such behavior, but especially so when those individuals are underage. Dependency, particularly when it involves alcohol, can take years off a person’s life and even affect overall brain development, and the road to those dire straits can begin early for those who drink alcohol before they are legally allowed to. Because underage drinking is such a huge problem in the United States, law enforcement is cracking down on it in major ways. 

At, we see firsthand how alcohol dependency can alter the lives of young people, and we wanted to know just how much law enforcement is attempting to mitigate it. To find this information, we used the 2017 FBI Crime in the United States Report to see how many liquor law and drunkenness violations were committed by underage drinkers across the US. To find out the answer, look through our findings below.

Map showing liquor law violations by minors per state

The state with the most liquor law violations is Pennsylvania with 2,426 total. Wisconsin had the second-most amount of underage liquor law violations with 2,271 and Minnesota saw 1,816 violations throughout the reporting year. 

These numbers are staggering, but while we were assessing the report, however, we found that just looking at the underage drinking population alone didn’t illuminate the underage drinking issue as much as it should. So, we laid out the data in a different way to find the number of violations per 100,000 minors.

After doing this, we found that South Dakota had the most liquor law violations with 381.11, which when compared to Pennsylvania, which only had 90.22 violations per 100,000 minors, really highlights the differences between the two metrics. Moving down the list, North Dakota had 325.17 violations per 100,000 minors and Wyoming was right behind it with 300.67 violations.

Map presenting drunkenness violations by minors per state

Along with liquor law violations, we also wanted to look at the drunkenness violations that underage drinkers incurred across the country in 2017. Again, South Dakota makes the shortlist for the most violations giving to underage drinkers with 104.28 per 100,000 minors, which is right behind New Hampshire’s 118.62 drunkenness violations. Rounding out the top three is Oklahoma, though its violation total, 22.06, is much lower than the top two states. Interesting, the title for the lowest drunkenness violations is shared by 14 states in total. 

Map identifying liquor law violations by minors per region

Because we found so many insights from underage drinking violations by state, we turned our attention to the regions that house them. The region with the most liquor law violations by far was the Midwest with 66.70 violations per 100,000 minors. The West and the Northeast had 38.08 and 37.33 violations, respectively, and the South had the least amount of liquor law violations per 100,000 minors with 16.96.

Map showing drunkenness violations by minors per region

When looking at the number of drunkenness violations by region, the South and the West have a negligible difference between their total violations per 100,000, even though the South has almost 10 million more minors overall. The Northeast had slightly fewer drunkenness violations overall with 4.47 per 100,000 minors and the Midwest had the fewest with 2.57 violations.

Underage drinking is an epidemic and it’s important for all of us to take this problem seriously. If you or a loved one has an alcohol dependency, please feel free to reach out today to learn how we can help.

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