First and foremost, alcohol consumption has certainly been linked to crime. Drunk driving, obviously, is one of the most common examples, but there are also cases of assault, theft and many other crimes involving those who are under the influence.
However, one of the most interesting phenomenons in the United States is the dramatic drop in crime rates after the 1990s. Reports indicate that they started falling in 1990, and there was a huge drop after 1995. This trend has continued so that violent crime is drastically lower in the modern day than it has ever been in recorded American history.
Experts are not sure what caused the decline. Was it the economic boom of the 90s? Was it the hiring of more police officers? Is there some other reason?
That brings us back to alcohol consumption. The amount of beer consumed by the average American did fall in the 1990s. The Brennan Center claims that lower consumption caused crime in that decade to fall by about 7.5 percent.
However, looking at the data from one decade does not explain why the rates kept falling and have remained low. Additionally, Americans don't actually drink more alcohol than normal -- it's not as if there is a culture of drunken crime in the United States. The stats from the World Health Organization indicate that the average European and the average Canadian both actually drink a little more alcohol in the course of a year. However, violent crime in Europe and Canada is even less common than in the United States, even after the American crime decline.
Is There a Link?
At the end of the day, experts can't agree on one reason for the decline in crime rates. They do know that alcohol consumption is linked to crime in some cases -- especially cases of assault, theft and rape -- but the exact relationship remains unclear.
For those who are accused of committing crimes while intoxicated, it's incredibly important for them to know their legal rights. Alcohol use can make it hard to gather facts and evidence or to give a trustworthy testimony, and those who are accused must remember that they do have the right to a fair trial.
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