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CDC: Teen drinking and driving dropped by half in two decades

Teen drinking and driving rates in the United States are half of what they were 20 years ago, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

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Drinking and driving rates for teenagers have plummeted in the last twenty years. Steven Twinn, left, fiance of DeAnna Marie Tucker, the daughter of Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford, at podium, reacts to Weatherford's recollection of the death of his daughter by a drunk driver at a news conference, Aug. 15, 2012, in Jackson.

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

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The percentage of U.S. high school students who drink and drive has dropped by more than half in two decades, in part due to tougher laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, federal health officials said on Tuesday.

In 2011, 10.3 percent of high school students 16 and older reported drinking and driving in the previous 30 days, compared to 22.3 percent in 1991, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

The CDC credited the nearly 54 percent decline to stricter laws against drunken driving and restrictions on teen driving privileges, such as limits on the hours teenagers may legally drive at night.

"We've seen really good progress," CDC Director Thomas Frieden told reporters. "We're moving in the right direction, but we need to keep up the momentum."

Despite the decrease, nearly 1 million high school students consumed alcohol before driving last year, the report showed.

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