The FBI maintains arrest statistics on nearly every conceivable category of crime. For the years 2010 through 2014, declining arrest statistics for males aged 10 through 17 for offenses involving alcohol indicate – absent other causes – that laws do have a prohibitive effect on the drinking behavior of young men.
Alcohol-related youth offenses
In 2010, over 830,000 males were charged in the U.S. for drunk driving. Of these, 1,500 were aged 16 and 5,000 were 17. In subsequent years, DUI charges for each age group declined, with the 2014 registering the lowest totals: 900 and 2,900, respectively.
The FBI keeps statistics from over 12,000 agencies. These agencies represent an average population of 244,000,000 each year. For the four arrest categories involving alcohol, arrests declined each year from 2010. And save for 2011, the estimated population for each subsequent year was greater than 2010. This means that, despite a larger general population, fewer young men were charged with alcohol-related crimes.
Effects of alcohol laws in cities
According to FBI data, of the 655,000 youths under the age 18 charged with crimes, about 92,000 had committed crimes involving alcohol. Youths under 18 residing in cities are charged more often with alcohol-related offenses than the under-18 population in the rest of the country. And while the data tables do not refine statistics to the level of age and gender, other data proves males commit more crimes than do females, so it is realistic to conclude metropolitan males under 18 commit more alcohol related-crimes than do their suburban and rural counterparts.
The good news is alcohol-related arrests for young metropolitans are down since 2010. That year, over 177,000 were arrested for drunk driving, violating liquor laws, drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
It is likely that other forces are also at work in the drop in underage, alcohol-related crime. For example, despite harrowing accounts of the dangers of binge drinking on campuses, statistics show alcohol consumption among U.S. college students has been steadily decreasing. But to correlate this reduction to harsher penalties or laws on and around campus would be a stretch. There are a myriad of reasons why college students and males under 18 may drink less (or at least get arrested less often). But as a wise person once quipped, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
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About the author:
Darren Fraser, worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec.