The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism released a report in April 2020 discussing the findings of a 2018 survey of per capita alcohol (ethanol) consumption in the United States. The proportion of ethanol used for each beverage type were 0.045 for beer, 0.129 for wine, and 0.411 for spirits. (citation omitted) The report reveals consumption trends through 2018, including:
- Per capita consumption of ethanol from all alcoholic beverages combined in 2018 was 2.35 gallons, representing no change from 2017.
- Between 2017 and 2018, changes in overall per capita ethanol consumption included increases in 15 States, decreases in 28 States and the District of Columbia, and no changes in 7 States.
- Analysis of overall per capita alcohol consumption by U.S. Census region between 2017 and 2018 indicated an increase of 3.7 percent in the West. The analysis also showed decreases of 0.4 percent in the Northeast, 0.4 percent in the Midwest, and 1.3 percent in the South.
- Healthy People 2020 set the national objective for per capita annual alcohol consumption at no more than 2.1 gallons. Per capita consumption would need to decrease by 5.5 percent each year for the next 2 years to achieve this goal. In 2018, the overall per capita annual alcohol consumption level was more than 10 percent above target (> 2.31 gallons) in 28 States and the District of Columbia, 10 percent or less above target (> 2.10–2.31 gallons) in 12 States, up to 10 percent below target (1.89–2.10 gallons) in 6 States, and more than 10 percent below target (< 1.89 gallons) in 4 States.
Interestingly, the Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS) used sales data from the beverage industry rather than alcoholic beverage consumption levels because the authors believed the data to be more accurate. Also of interest is the fact that AEDS obtained state population estimates for those 14 years of age and older to calculate the per capita consumption rates. Although below the minimum legal age for purchasing alcoholic beverages, the age of 14 was used because most self-report surveys indicate that many people drink alcoholic beverages at age 14, according to this report.
So which states drink the most? The fifth smallest state (by area) of New Hampshire placed first in per capita consumption. Utah, with the strictest DUI laws in the country, consumed the least amount. Tennessee, the home of this author, ranked 40/51 (the District of Columbia was included), despite being home to the Jack Daniel’s distillery.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and six foreign countries. After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.