Underage Drunk Drivers Up

The good news is Illinois had a lower number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities last year.

The bad news is that a surprisingly high number of the fatalities involved drivers who weren't legally old enough to drink.

Statistics released this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show 580 people died in 396 alcohol-related traffic crashes in Illinois last year. That's down from 613 the previous year.

But 44 of the crashes involved drivers who were between the ages of 16 and 20 who were legally drunk. The legal drinking age in Illinois is 21.

The demographic long considered to be the most at risk to drive drunk, ages 21 to 34, was responsible for 192 of the crashes.