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Age-specific Arrest Rate Trends
Q: What is the trend for age-specific arrest rates for drug law violations?
A: Across ages, drug abuse violation arrest rates were higher in 2012 than in 1980.

Drug abuse violation arrests per 100,000 population, 1980, 1997, 2012

Age 1980 1997 2012
10 to 12 14.6 34.0 26.0
13 to 14 185.6 393.3 252.1
Age 15 515.1 952.7 561.9
Age 16 767.7 1,547.0 880.7
Age 17 986.4 2,084.4 1,308.4
Age 18 1,144.3 2,711.1 1,987.7
Age 19 1,111.4 2,470.7 2,063.2
Age 20 1,052.2 2,170.8 1,906.5
Age 21 973.3 1,945.8 1,771.8
Age 22 875.1 1,711.1 1,639.8
Age 23 778.0 1,579.4 1,535.5
Age 24 707.1 1,434.4 1,432.9
25 to 29 485.6 1,171.8 1,201.2
30 to 34 262.6 1,005.4 908.2
35 to 39 139.7 832.7 619.6
40 to 44 79.9 563.2 483.7
45 to 49 49.8 310.0 388.8
50 to 54 30.0 144.3 268.5
55 to 59 22.6 71.6 142.9
60 to 64 13.1 34.0 62.4
  • The peak year for juvenile drug abuse violation arrest rates was 1997. Between 1980 and 1997, arrest rates doubled on average for youth ages 15-17, as did arrest rates for adults ages 18-24. By comparison, rates for adults ages 30-34 tripled and rates for those ages 40-44 increased by a factor of 6.
  • Between 1997 and 2012, drug abuse violation arrest rates declined for juveniles and most adults. For example, the rate fell 40% for youth ages 15-17, compared with 17% for adults ages 18-20 and 16% for adults age 21-24.
  • Overall from 1980 to 2012, the drug abuse violation arrest rates for youth ages 15-17 increased 19%. In comparison, the rates increased more for adults age 18 and older. More specifically, the rates increased 87% for adults ages 18-24, 147% for adults ages 25-29, 246% for those ages 30-34, 344% for those ages 35-39, and 505% for those ages 40-44. Even the arrest rates for adults ages 60-64 increased 376%.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/qa05308.asp?qaDate=2012. Released on December 16, 2014.

Data Source: Arrest estimates developed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and disseminated through “Arrest Data Analysis Tool.” Online. Available from the BJS website. Retrieved October 14, 2014.