Activities and situations when young adults drive drunk in Rural Montana

Matthew E. Rossheim, Kaylin M. Greene, Caroline J. Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: This qualitative study explored activities and situations that often result in young adults driving while under the influence of alcohol in rural Montana. Methods: Eleven focus groups were conducted in 8 rural counties across Montana, and 72 persons (50.7% female, 63.4% college students) aged 18 to 25 years old participated. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and narrative text segments were coded independently by 2 researchers. Results: Participants noted a variety of situations specific to rural settings that promoted drunk driving by young adults. Drinking at several types of outdoor activities, such as branding events and festivals, facilitated alcohol consumption in underage youth; drunk driving often followed. Underage youth frequently drank while driving along back roads to avoid detection. Drinking while driving, ie, booze cruising, was thought of as a fun activity and sometimes involved firearms, ie, spotlighting. Driving after drinking was seen as necessary to get home or to other locations. Conclusions: Our findings should be used to inform multifaceted community-wide programs aimed at reducing underage alcohol consumption as well as deterring driving after/while drinking. Interventions could include media campaigns, improving enforcement of DUI and underage drinking laws, providing alternative transportation, and passing additional alcohol control laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol
  • Drinking and driving
  • Heavy drinking
  • Qualitative research methods


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