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More U.S. veterans binge drinking, drunk driving

The U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a huge emotional toll on American military members from Kansas and elsewhere. As a result, more veterans may be binge drinking and drunk driving, according to a new study.

By analyzing behavioral risk factor data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers from the American Addiction Centers found that veteran rates of binge drinking increased from approximately 14 percent in 2013 to nearly 16 percent in 2017. According to experts, women binge drink when they consume more than four drinks within two hours. Meanwhile, men binge drink when they have five or more drinks in two hours. The study found that the largest increase in binge drinking was among female veterans. The rate for female vets spiked nearly 3 percent between 2013 and 2017 while the overall rate increased just 1.6 percent.

Unfortunately, where there is binge drinking, there may also be drunk driving. The study found that drunk driving rates among veterans have increased by almost 60 percent since 2014, jumping from 1.6 percent to 2.5 percent of all veterans. While female vets experienced the biggest increase in binge drinking, the study found that male vets were significantly more likely to engage in drunk driving. Drunk driving among vets was most common in California, Kentucky and Washington, D.C. It was least common in Virginia, Alaska and Utah. Studies have shown that up to 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffer from PTSD, which, along with other mental health issues such as depression, is often linked to binge drinking.

If convicted, a veteran could face harsh consequences for drunk driving. However, not all DUI charges lead to convictions. A defense attorney may be able to review the case and develop a defense against the accusations. As a result, the charges might be reduced or dismissed.

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