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Some States Have Thousands More Drunk Drivers Than Others

Nearly 10,000 Americans died from drunk driving collisions in 2014.

Statistics show that alcohol is a factor in over 30% of driving fatalities. Drunk drivers tend to be young—26 to 29 is the highest risk age range—and male—men arrested for drunk driving outnumber women 3 to 1.

Now, thanks to a survey published by, we know which states have the highest occurrences of drunk driving.

The survey gave each state a ranking that takes into account drunk driving fatalities, DUI arrests and penalties, and the laws in place to deter drunk driving, among other factors.

Many of the worst-ranked states are located in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, with North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin making up the top four.

North Dakota holds the unenviable distinction of having both the highest number of drunk driving fatalities and DUI arrests last year.

In Montana, the second worst-ranked state, 3.4% of adult residents admitted to driving drunk within the last month, which translates to over 8 million drivers.

Tyler Spraul, the director of the survey, cited dangerous winter driving conditions and higher overall alcohol consumption as possible reasons “so many of those northern states rank poorly.”

North Dakota, Idaho and Wisconsin are all among the top ten alcohol-consuming state populations, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, citing data from 2009.

In contrast, Utah, which contains a large population of alcohol-abstaining Mormons, consumes the least amount of alcohol per capita, and was found to have the smallest number of drunk driving incidents in 2015.

Other than move to Utah, what can we take away from this information?

More than anything, the survey demonstrates that the number of alcohol-related auto collisions is roughly proportional to the per capita alcohol consumption in each state.

Wherever you live, be extra cautious on the road at times of increased alcohol consumption. Weekend nights and holidays are particularly dangerous. Two thirds of fatal crashes between midnight and 3am involve a drunk driver.

Whether you live in New York, which ranked right in the middle at number 26, or Utah, ranked 50th, stay vigilant, and remember that you are never safe from drunk drivers.


“Alcohol Facts and Statistics,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, January 2016.

Jansen, Bart, “These are the most dangerous states for drunken driving,” USA Today, 28 April 2016.

LaVallee, Robin A., and Hsiao-ye Yi, “Apparent Per Capita Alcohol Consumption: National, State, and Regional Trends, 1977-2009,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, August 2011.

Spraul, Tyler, “Most Dangerous States for Drunk Driving,”

“Statistics,” MADD.

“Time of Day and Demographic Perspective Of Fatal Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Crashes,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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