In recent years, alcohol consumption has been considered an important public health problem. Ethanol, the alcohol used in beverages, is a drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and impairs driving skills and co-ordination, increasing risk of deaths and injuries derived from crashes and road accidents. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is implicated with premature deaths, injuries and damages caused by motor vehicle crashes, which result in high costs to government and society. Considering that alcohol consumption is the main responsible factor for deaths and disabilities in young people, the aim of this work was to evaluate the prevalence of blood alcohol in offenders and/or fatal and non-fatal victims of traffic occurrences in the region of Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo State, from 2005 to 2007. The results revealed that in 2134 cases investigated, blood alcohol positivity was generally found in young adults, 25-45 years old and male. The study showed the high risk of drinking and driving and the importance in establishing actions of prevention and intervention to promote the reduction in the number of traffic occurrences related to consumption of alcoholic beverages. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.