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As part of Impaired Driving Prevention Month, Sobering Up is taking a look back at the year’s Top 12 Newsmakers in the fight against alcohol-involved crime and Impaired Driving. This post is Part 1 of 12.

In January, the Centers for Disease Control reported that on average, 17% of the U.S. population engages in binge drinking at least four times a month. The average number of drinks during a binge: 8.

The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting for men, or four or more for women. While some debate the definition of binge drinking, what is significant is not just the percentage of people binge drinking, but who, how much, and how often they are drinking:

  • 18-34 year olds have the highest number of binge drinkers
  • Individuals 65 and older binge drink most often
  • Binge drinking varies according to income level
  • Binge drinking is most concentrated in the Midwest, New England, DC, Alaska, and Hawaii
  • Most drunk drivers binge drink

Most notably, the CDC reports that most of the individuals who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. With the majority of drunk driving deaths being caused by those with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, understanding the complexity of the 38 million Americans who binge drink and drive impaired each year is an important perspective. Changing the culture of binge drinking may be less complex than changing the behavior of dependent or addicted individuals and could potentially reduce the rate of alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.


  1. I find it hard to believe that as the CDC reports, most of those who binge drink are not acohol dependent ??

  2. Alcohol Abuse is not the same as Alcohol Dependence. The DSM criteria is pretty clear.The “epsilon” variety of drinker (as per Jellinek) is a binge-type drinker but that is typically someone who consumes much greater amounts than the CDC reports.

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