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The 10 worst states for drunk driving, ranked

Melissa Wells   

The 10 worst states for drunk driving, ranked
Forbes Advisor ranked states based on drunk driving metrics across the country.Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock
  • Forbes Advisor identified the worst states in the US for drunk driving.
  • It ranked Montana and South Dakota as the worst states.

As the holidays and New Year celebrations come to a close, many families are hitting the road, putting a spotlight on driving safety.

Using research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the FBI, and the Department of Transportation, Forbes Advisor identified the states with the highest rates of drunk driving.

Its November 2023 report, which looked at data across the 50 states, evaluated six key metrics, including the number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes, the number of drunk drivers under the age of 21 involved in fatal crashes, and DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers, and the number of people killed in crashes involving a drunk driver per 100,000 residents.

It also considered the percentage of total traffic deaths that were caused by drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 to 0.07, and the percentage of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. The legal limit in the US is 0.08%, so if a driver's BAC is above this in any state, they are presumed intoxicated.

Here are the top 10 worst states for drunk driving.

10. Oklahoma

10. Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.      Gerson Repreza/Shutterstock

The Sooner State has the 10th-highest rate of drunk drivers under 21 involved in fatal crashes. It is also ranked 14th for the rate of people killed in collisions with a drunk driver.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 6.03

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 333.63

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 25.20%

9. Missouri

9. Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri.      Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock

In Missouri, about four in 100,000 residents are killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, which makes it the state with the 12th-worst record in this category. It also has the 11th-highest percentage of traffic-related deaths caused by drivers with a lower blood alcohol level of 0.01 to 0.07.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 5.92

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 336.38

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 28.54%

8. South Carolina

8. South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina.      Mihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock

South Carolina stands out for having the sixth-highest rate of drunk drivers who are under 21 involved in fatal collisions. For every 100,000 residents, about six are killed in wrecks involving a drunk driver, the third highest of all the states.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 7.57

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 257.93

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 33.47%

7. New Mexico

7. New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico.      Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

New Mexico has the fourth-highest rate of residents killed in collisions with a drunk driver and the second-highest rate of drunk drivers under 21 involved in fatal crashes.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 7.81

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 278.59

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 32.02%

6. Oregon

6. Oregon
Portland, Oregon.      James Bentley Photography/Shutterstock

As for the percentage of traffic deaths caused by drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 to 0.07, Oregon ranks as the fifth-highest.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 5.36

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 393.76

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 35.89%

5. North Dakota

5. North Dakota
Fargo, North Dakota.      Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

Ranking fifth among the worst states for drunk driving, North Dakota sees about five people killed in crashes with a drunk driver involved per 100,000 of its residents, the 10th-highest rate in the US.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 6.11

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 832.50

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 32.67%

4. Wyoming

4. Wyoming
Cheyenne, Wyoming.      Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

Among the states, Wyoming ranks second for the number of people killed in collisions with a drunk driver.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 8.22

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 629.12

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 34.55%

3. Texas

3. Texas
Dallas, Texas.      f11photo/Shutterstock

Not only does the Lone Star State rank third among the worst states for drunk driving, but it also has the third-highest rate of drunk drivers under 21 who have been in fatal collisions. In addition, more than five people die in wrecks with a drunk driver per 100,000 residents in Texas, the sixth-highest across the nation.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 8.30

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 339.54

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 42.37%

2. South Dakota

2. South Dakota
Sioux Falls, South Dakota.      Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

Per the study, South Dakota is the eighth-worst-ranked state for drunk drivers under 21 involved in fatal collisions. It also sees more than four people per 100,000 residents die in collisions involving a drunk driver. In addition, South Dakota has the ninth-highest percentage of traffic-related deaths caused by drivers with a lower BAC of 0.01 to 0.07.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 5.60

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 879.12

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 35.14%

1. Montana

1. Montana
Missoula, Montana.      Mary Vanier/Shutterstock

Montana was ranked the worst state for drunk driving in Forbes Advisor's study.

The rates for drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes, people killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, traffic deaths caused by drunk drivers, and the rate of drunk drivers under 21 involved in fatal crashes are all the highest in the US.

Number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 drivers: 8.57

Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers: 450.50

Percent of total traffic deaths caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher: 43.51%


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