The US DUI Report – The States With the Most and Least Drunk Driving
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a major reason for road accidents and road deaths in the United States each year. The year 2020, being the first year of the COVID pandemic, shows a clear trend shift when it comes to drunk driving fatalities – unfortunately, in the wrong direction.
With 11,654 deaths, drunk driving accounted for 30% of all road fatalities – the worst year since 2005. Furthermore, drunk driving fatalities are up a staggering 1512 deaths (14.9%) compared to 2019, dealing a heavy blow to safety advocates and regulators alike.
But how does this look throughout the United States? Are some states better than others? We’ve taken a deep dive into the latest available data to find out where DUI accidents, fatalities, and arrests frequently occur. We then ranked each state from best-to-worst.
Note: Drunk driving statistics takes time to collect. This report features the latest data released in April 2022.
How drunk driving fatalities have changed through the years
DUI fatalities have decreased from 41% of all road fatalities in 1985 to 30% in 2020.
According to the NHTSA, a driver with a BAC of 0.08 will experience concentration difficulties, difficulty maintaining speed, impaired perception, impaired judgment, short-term memory loss, and difficulty processing information. Even a BAC of 0.05, which is within the legal limit, will result in reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and reduced reaction times.
It’s important to remember that drunk driving accidents are completely unnecessary, and an overwhelming majority of alcohol-related road fatalities are solely a result of drunk driving and would not have occurred otherwise.
Why did DUI deaths increase in 2020?
While it is clear that drunk driving fatalities increased in 2020, studies have yet not been conducted to understand why. However, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has determined that overall alcoholic beverage sales increased during the pandemic. The increase in alcohol consumption correlates well to the increase in drunk driving deaths for the same time period but it does not explain the entire increase.
Part of the reason for the increased drunk driving during this period could be because of the increased loneliness that came with COVID 19 and the shutdowns, leading to increased consumption in the home.
Is there any difference between men and women?
Yes. Men are more than four times as likely to be involved in a fatal drunk driving accident compared to women. What does this mean exactly? Well, 6,923 impaired male drivers were killed in drunk driving crashes, whereas only 1579 impaired women drivers died during the same period.
|State||Male Driver Fatalities||Female Driver Fatalities|
|District of Columbia||4||1|
|Total||6 923||1 579|
States with the most drunk driving
Montana received a DUI severity score of 84.1 out of 100, making it the worst state in the nation. In 2020, 45% of the state’s road fatalities involved a drunk driver, and there were 473 DUI arrests per 100.000 drivers.
Montana was followed by South Dakota (80.4), Wyoming (78.7), North Dakota (74.8), and Texas (64.4). These are the same 5 states that topped the list in 2019.
States with the least drunk driving
Delaware received a DUI severity score of 27.9 out of 100. In 2020, only 23% of the state’s road fatalities involved an impaired driver, which is well below the national average at 30%. The state only reported a total of 294 DUI arrests and 3.25 DUI fatalities per 100.000 drivers.
Delaware was followed by Massachusetts (31.7), New York (32.1), New Jersey (34.5), and Hawaii (36.1). These are the same states that had the least drunk driving in 2019, except for Utah which has been replaced by Hawaii.
The complete list of drunk driving statistics by state
Below is a complete list of drunk driving statistics by state. Each state is ranked according to its Severity Score. We have also added the percentage increase in DUI fatalities compared to the previous year, but this metric does not impact the Severity Score.
We calculated the DUI Severity Score by first creating a normalized score out of ten on the factors “DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers”, “DUI road fatalities per 100,000 drivers”, and the “DUI road fatality ratio”, and then taking a final average score across all factors to discover the overall score for each state.
Previous DUI reports
You can view the full 2019 DUI data for each state in this excel document.
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