Dangerous drinking is on the rise in Ohio. There’s a large body of evidence that says so, but this statistic from the Ohio Department of Health is the most telling: In 2003, 40 Ohioans died under the influence of alcohol. In 2015, 380 Ohioans died while intoxicated.
Some of those deaths were caused by the state’s growing opioid epidemic. Some people drink while they’re using prescription opioids and other drugs. That can make overdoses more likely.
Other, nonfatal dangerous drinking is also prevalent in Ohio. In Appalachian Ohio, the southern and eastern parts of the state, about one in five women binge drink regularly. Young Appalachian women are particularly prone to rapid, heavy drinking. A study published in the Journal of Rural Mental Health revealed that Appalachian women under 26 years of age are five times more likely to binge drink than Appalachian women over age 50.
Ohio State University’s students are more likely to binge drink than students at other colleges.
Drunk drivers cause hundreds of fatal accidents in Ohio every year. The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported that during 2016, 346 Ohioans were killed and 7,199 were injured in accidents caused by alcohol intoxicated drivers.
In 2017, Ohio made its penalties for drinking and driving harsher. As a result of the harsher penalties, first time OVI — operating a vehicle impaired — offenders can also be required to use an ignition interlock device, depending on the sentence they receive.
Even before the interlock measure, someone convicted of a felony OVI for the first time must spend 60 to 120 days in jail. A judge can extend their sentence to up to six months or one year in certain cases. Aggravated vehicular homicide offenders who have been convicted of three or more OVIs are automatically sentenced to three years in jail.
DUI-convicted drivers are also required to pay fines and have their licenses suspended depending on the severity of their offense.
Ohio has won some victories in the battle against dangerous drinking. DUI deaths are on the decline. However, the increase in alcohol poisoning deaths is troublesome. So is the growth of binge drinking. Ohio needs to address the dangerous drinking of its residents, and provide treatment to those who need it.