North Dakota's 'drunkest state' ranking has many concerned

Published: Mar. 9, 2018 at 7:13 PM CST
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North Dakota ranks pretty high on several quality of life issues, but there are other things that are nothing to brag about. The state's ranking as the "drunkest state in the nation" by USA Today 24/7 Wall St. has many people concerned.

Officials at the Department of Human Services and officers with the Highway Patrol aren't laughing at the states rating, they say it's costing us lives.

Stopping off for a cold one after a long day may seem like a good idea, but depending on how much alcohol you consume it could quickly become a bad one.

"When you arrive on scene of an alcohol related fatality, you just know that it could have perhaps been avoided had they chose not to drink, made better decisions, drive sober," said Lt. Michael Roark, ND Highway Patrol.

A report from USA Today says North Dakota has some of the highest rates of binge drinking in the country. Those statistics aren't surprising the experts.

"In the past decade, North Dakota has ranked in the top five states for the highest adult binge drinking rates pretty consistently," said Laura Anderson, Asst. Dir. Behavioral Health with the Department of Human Services.

And the numbers show binge drinking leads to DUIs.

"The biggest consequence we see with adult binge drinking in the state is drinking and driving," Anderson said.

"Alcohol related fatalities in the last 10 years, its ranged anywhere from 42% to as high as 52%," Roark said.

So far in 2018, that number has remained low. Only one alcohol related death out of nine vehicle fatalities statewide.

The Department of Human Services says that on a positive note, the rate of youth alcohol use has dropped by half, from about 60 percent to under 30 percent.