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Implementing Policies Targeting Underage Drinking and Alcohol-Impaired Driving

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Late adolescence is the time of life when most people begin driving. Thus, the risks of accidents involving alcohol are particularly pronounced for adolescents. The CDC reports that high school students drive after drinking about 2.4 million times each month, and that underage drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a car crash when they are intoxicated than when sober.


  • Reducing underage drinking has many health benefits, but it can also significantly decrease alcohol-involved auto accidents. 
  • Rigorous research shows that announcing and implementing a minimum drinking age reduces car accidents and illegal sales to youth. 
  • Establishing blood alcohol levels for youth that are lower than adult BACs reduces driving and drinking among adolescents.


A range of policies, including raising the minimum drinking age and setting blood-alcohol-level (BAC) standards, have been proven to reduce youth drinking and alcohol-impaired-driving. States and communities that do not have such policies in place could likely achieve those benefits by adopting them. Even states and communities that do implement these policies can still improve by consistently enforcing them.

Key Policy Evidence: