Study Shows Drinking and Drug Use Up in North Dakota

Study Shows Drinking and Drug Use Up in North DakotaA recent study shows that North Dakota is ranked 19th in the country for overall health. Although this may seem like a good ranking, it’s actually a decline from our ranking of 14 in 2019. Let’s take a look at some of North Dakota’s strengths and the challenges we’re facing in making our state safer.

The report, released in January of 2023, is produced by the United Health Foundation and evaluates “a comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data.”

United Healthcare notes the current health strengths and challenges North Dakota is facing:


  • “Low prevalence of frequent mental distress
  • Low percentage of household food insecurity
  • Low percentage of adults who avoided care due to cost
  • 36% increase in mental health providers from 165.4 to 225 per 100,000 population from 2017 to 2022
  • 29% decrease in smoking from 21.2% to 15% of adults between 2012 and 2021”


  • “High racial disparity in premature death rate
  • High prevalence of excessive drinking
  • High occupational fatality rate
  • 63% increase in drug deaths from 9 to 14.7 deaths per 100,000 population between 2017 and 2020”

Although our state ranks #1 in Physical Environment, which includes air and water quality, it is important to keep these challenges in mind. The increased rates of excessive drinking and drug use can contribute to the overall safety of our state, especially if alcohol and drug users take to the road while impaired.

According to Vision Zero North Dakota, a program focused on reducing traffic accidents and fatalities, an alcohol-related crash occurs every 13 hours, and every 10 and a half days, an alcohol-related vehicle fatality occurs. As Vision Zero states on their website, “Alcohol and drug-related crashes are 100% preventable.” Yet, over the past five years, 203 people have died in North Dakota in alcohol-related crashes. And, so far this year, there have been 2,714 statewide DUI arrests.

The dangers of drunk driving in Minot

The dangers associated with drunk driving include an increased risk of accidents. Driving under the influence of alcohol impairs a person’s cognitive and motor skills, leading to an increased risk of accidents. Reaction times are slowed, and judgment becomes impaired.

Moreover, drunk driving accidents often result in more severe injuries and a higher likelihood of fatalities compared to car accidents where alcohol is not a factor. The combination of impaired coordination and decision-making can lead to devastating results.

Individuals caught driving under the influence can face severe legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and even imprisonment. These consequences are in place to deter individuals from engaging in this dangerous behavior.

Apart from legal penalties, there are significant financial ramifications associated with drunk driving accidents. This includes increased insurance premiums, legal fees, and potential civil suits if others are injured or property is damaged.

It’s important to remember that drunk driving accidents affect not only the individuals involved, but also their families and the community at large. The emotional and psychological toll on victims and their loved ones can be long-lasting.

One of the most troubling aspects of drunk driving accidents is that they are almost always preventable. Education, awareness campaigns, and strict law enforcement are essential components in addressing this issue and reducing the number of incidents.

How is North Dakota fighting drunk driving crashes?

Per Vision Zero, North Dakota law enforcement has several strategies in place to cut down on drunk driving. These strategies include:

  • Saturation patrols. These are active patrols that enforce our impaired driving laws, typically in previously identified high-risk crash areas.
  • Sobriety checkpoints. These are more concentrated efforts to identify and arrest impaired drivers. Sobriety checkpoints are chosen in advance and the area is selected based on high alcohol and/or drug-related incidents.
  • High-visibility enforcement. These efforts include “highly visible and proactive” actions, targeting specific traffic safety issues and campaigns. One traffic safety campaign you may be aware of “Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

How you can prevent and reduce the risk of drunk driving accidents

Vision Zero also discusses how you can keep the roads safe and be a more responsible driver:

  • Always driver sober.
  • Don’t let friends and family drive while impaired.
  • Never ride with a driver who has been drinking.
  • If you are going to drink, choose a non-drinking friend as a sober driver.
  • If you have been drinking alcohol, ensure you call a friend or family member, rideshare service, or cab for a safe ride home.
  • If you see an impaired driver, call 9-1-1 to report them.

What is North Dakota Sober Ride?

In an effort to reduce the number of drunk drivers on our roads and highways, Vision Zero has implemented a program called North Dakota Sober Ride, providing ride vouchers for drivers during the holiday season or other events when people may overindulge. Vision Zero is expected to offer the same types of discounts throughout the rest of the holidays. You can check the website to see current offers.

If you are in an accident with a Minot drunk driver

Even the safest driver in the world may not be able to escape a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you do find yourself in an accident with an impaired driver, keep the following in mind to protect yourself and any legal action you may take in the future:

  • Check for injuries. Assess yourself and any passengers in your vehicle for any injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately.
  • Move to a safe location. If you can safely do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road to avoid further accidents.
  • Call the police. Even if no one is injured, it’s important to report the accident to the police. This will create an official record of the incident and help establish the other driver’s intoxication.
  • Exchange information. Collect the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance information, and vehicle identification number (VIN). Also, try to get contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident.
  • Document the scene. Take photos of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and the surrounding area to document the damage and the accident scene.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if you don’t feel any immediate pain, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Injuries from car accidents can often take time to manifest, and early diagnosis and treatment can be crucial.
  • Notify your insurance company. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Provide them with all the information you have gathered, including the police report, witness statements, and medical records.
  • Consider hiring a lawyer. If you were injured in the accident, or if you believe the other driver’s insurance company is not being fair, it may be in your best interest to consult with an experienced Minot personal injury lawyer. At Larson Law Firm, PC, we can help you understand your legal options, negotiate with the insurance company, and pursue the compensation you deserve.
  • Beware of the insurance company’s tactics. Insurance companies often try to minimize their liability and reduce their payouts. Be cautious of any statements or offers from the insurance company without consulting your lawyer.
  • Document your expenses. Keep track of all your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other costs related to the accident. This documentation will be crucial in support of your insurance claim or personal injury case.

At Larson Law Firm, PC, we understand how car accidents work and we want to help. Talk to us today to find out your rights to compensation after a drunk driving accident that wasn’t your fault. To schedule a free consultation, reach out to our offices or complete our contact form. We serve clients across the state from our offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Minot. We are ready to assist you through the entire legal process.