U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Alcohol and Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 1998
47 pages
L A Greenfeld
Publication Type
This analysis of national data on the prevalence of alcohol involvement in crime focuses on measurement of the extent to which alcohol is involved in crime, arrests for driving under the influence and fatal accidents, and the use of alcohol by convicted offenders.
A discussion of the sources of data on alcohol and crime encompasses the National Crime Victimization Survey; the Uniform Crime Reporting Program; the National Incident-Based Reporting Program; surveys of probationers, jail, and prison inmates; censuses of prisons and jails; and the Fatal Accident Reporting System. Regarding the role of alcohol in crime victimization, approximately 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking at the time of the offense. Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate reported that alcohol had been a factor. For about 1 in 5 violent victimizations that involved perceived alcohol use by the offender, victims also reported they believed the offender to have been using drugs as well. Approximately half the incidents described by the investigating officer as alcohol-related were between offenders and victims who were intimates. Data show that approximately 7 out of 10 alcohol-involved incidents of violence occurred in a residence. Among the data on drunk-driving arrests and fatal accidents are the number of such arrests. A trend analysis shows that over the last decade rates of intoxication in fatal accidents have declined across every age group. Data on the use of alcohol by convicted offenders show that among the 5.3 million convicted offenders under the jurisdiction of corrections agencies in 1996, nearly 2 million (36 percent) were estimated to have been drinking at the time of the offense. Alcohol use at the time of the offense was commonly found among those convicted of public-order crimes. Extensive tables and figures
Date Created: April 30, 2018