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25 percent of Wisconsin adults admit drunken driving during past year

More than a quarter of Wisconsin adults admit driving drunk at least once in a year's time - the most of any state.

That's according to a new compilation of surveys by the federal agency on substance abuse.

The surveys were taken from 2004-06. Twenty-six percent of Wisconsinites 18-and-older admitted to researchers they drove under the influence over the last 12 months.

That's 70-percent above the national average of 15 percent.

The high rates are connected with the strong drinking traditions in Wisconsin.

Nina Emerson of the University of Wisconsin Law School's Resource Center on Impaired Driving says the number of taverns and liquor stores per resident is three times the national average. In addition, the state's drunken driving laws are fairly lenient.

On the other hand, Emerson says the culture might make Wisconsinites more honest than most in admitting their behavior.

All five states with the highest percentages of admitted drunken drivers are in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains.

North Dakota is second, followed by Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Also, 5.3 percent of Wisconsin adults admitted driving while high on illegal drugs. That's slightly above the national average of 4.7.