Alcohol and Crime

While drinking and driving has received a great deal of public and media attention, the relationship between alcohol and crime, for both offenders and victims, has not received the same level of public attention. The relationship between alcohol and crimes including domestic abuse and violence, underage drinking, robbery, assault and sexual assault is clearly documented.

FACT: 5.3 million adults − 36% of those under correctional supervision at the time − were drinking at the time of their conviction offense

Excessive drinking leads to criminal behavior:

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) estimated that a majority of criminal offenders were under the influence of alcohol alone when they committed their crimes.

Federal research shows that for the 40% of convicted murderers being held in either jail or State prison, alcohol use was a factor in the homicide.

FACT: Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today

About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking. Crimes include: rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault. About two-thirds of violent crimes are characterized as simple assaults.

Based on victim reports, alcohol use by the offender was a factor in:

37% of rapes and sexual assaults

15% of robberies

27% of aggravated assaults, and

25% of simple assaults

Statistics showing correlation between alcohol and crime (from the NCADD Fact Sheet Alcohol and Crime):

Among violent crimes, the offender is far more likely to have been drinking than under the influence of other drugs, with the exception of robberies, where other drugs are likely to have been used such as alcohol.

Alcohol is more likely to be a factor in violence, where the attacker and the victim know each other. Two-thirds of victims who were attacked by an intimate (including a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been involved, and only 31% of victimizations by strangers are alcohol-related.

Nearly 500,000 incidents between intimates involve offenders who have been drinking; in addition, 118,000 incidents of family violence (excluding spouses) involve alcohol, as do 744,000 incidents among acquaintances.

1.4 million incidents of alcohol-related violence are committed against strangers.

Individuals under age 21 were the victims in just over 13% of incidents of alcohol-related violence, and the offenders in nearly 9%.

70% of alcohol-related incidents of violence occur in the home with greatest frequency at 11:00 pm…..20% of these incidents involve the use of a weapon other than hands, fists or feet.

Men and women suffer. Children suffer. Families suffer. Loved ones suffer. People get killed. Alcohol and Crime go hand in hand. It’s simply a fact.

Effectively confronting alcohol-related crime will require a balanced approach of public education, professional training, increased assessment and referral for treatment, expanded access to treatment, recovery housing and recovery support. For the great majority of offenders, we rely solely on punishment or incarceration as the only response…….and for most, not surprisingly, it is ineffective. Plain and simple, we have failed to treat the cause - binge drinking, alcohol abuse and dependence- alcoholism.