Young Adult Alcohol and Cannabis Impaired Driving After the Opening of Cannabis Retail Stores in Washington State

Prev Sci. 2024 Apr 25. doi: 10.1007/s11121-024-01679-6. Online ahead of print.


Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for young adults (YA) in the USA, and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUIA), cannabis (DUIC), and simultaneous use of both substances (DUIAC) are prominent risk factors. Trends in YA impaired driving behaviors after opening of cannabis retail stores have been understudied. We examined YA trends in DUIA, DUIC, and DUIAC from immediately prior through 5 years following the opening of cannabis retail outlets in Washington State (2014-2019). Differences in trends were assessed across age, sex, and urbanicity. Weighted logistic regressions assessed yearly change in prevalence of DUIA, DUIC, and DUIAC from 2014 to 2019, using annual statewide data from the Washington Young Adult Health Survey (n = 12,963; ages 18-25). Moderation of trends by age, sex, and urbanicity was assessed. Prevalence of DUIA decreased overall (AOR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.90, 0.97) and among drinkers (AOR = 0.95, 95% CI 0.91, 0.99) but remained at concerning levels in 2019 (10% overall; 16% among drinkers). Overall DUIC did not change significantly (AOR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.96, 1.03; 11% by 2019) but decreased among those who used cannabis (AOR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.86, 0.96; 33% by 2019). DUIAC decreased but not significantly (overall: AOR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.78, 1.01; those who used alcohol and cannabis: AOR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.74, 1.04). Prevalence of YA DUI remained concerning. Trends may reflect some success in reducing DUI, but additional detection and prevention are needed.

Keywords: Alcohol; Cannabis; DUI; Driving under the influence; Young adults.