The 10 Worst US States for Drunk Driving

By May Wilkerson 05/04/16

A new study compiled data from DUI arrests, penalties and fatalities to rank the top 10 states where drunk-driving is most prevalent.

The 10 Worst US States for Drunk Driving
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Drunk driving is a huge problem across the country, resulting in thousands of fatalities a year. But the problem is taking a greater toll on some states than others. 

A new study used national driving statistics to rank the 10 worst states for drunk driving. Each state is ranked according to the following categories: cost per fatality by state, percentage of fatal crashes that involved alcohol, DUI arrests, DUI penalties, and the amount of drunk driving laws. All the information was then translated into one Total Score, with the worst states receiving the lowest scores.

While it’s important to drive carefully (and soberly!) wherever you are, you might want to be just a bit more careful while hitting the roads in these 10 states:



The highest ranking states (brown) represent the top most dangerous states for drunk driving - Graphic courtesy of

10. Vermont

Best Ranking Factor: Fatality Rank: 26th

Worst Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 9th

The mountain state has a relatively low number of drunk driving fatalities. But the state is a little too lenient in DUI penalties, earning it a spot on the list.

9. Rhode Island

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Arrests: 38th

Worst Ranking Factor: Types of Laws/Statutes: 2nd

Rhode Island scores low for DUI arrests, but unfortunately, it scored high in other categories. A high rate of alcohol-related motor fatalities places it at #8, which is even higher considering the small size of the state. In addition, the laws against drunk driving are relatively lenient compared to other states.

8. New Mexico

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Arrests: 30th

Worst Ranking Factor: Cost Per Fatality Rank: 5th

New Mexico may have a low number of DUI arrests, but drunk driving is costing the state a lot of money. It ranked 5th at overall cost per fatality, which is the average amount expended by each taxpayer on drunk driving related incidents. 

7. Pennsylvania

Best Ranking Factor: Cost Per Fatality Rank: 31st

Worst Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 6th

The Keystone state ranks relatively low for cost per fatality of drunk driving. But in other categories, it doesn't do so well. It ranked 6th for DUI penalties, and 7th for Laws and Statutes combating driving under the influence.

6. South Dakota

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 29th

Worst Ranking Factor: DUI Arrests: 1st

Mount Rushmore may be a sight for sore eyes, but be careful if you’re driving to go see it. South Dakota is leading the country in number of DUI arrests. It is also ranked in the top 10 for the categories of Cost per Fatality and Laws and Statutes.

5. South Carolina

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 39th

Worst Ranking Factor: Fatality Rank: 3rd

South Carolina has a good ranking for the strength of its DUI penalties, but still has a serious drunk driving problem on its hands. The state ranks third in the country for alcohol-related driving fatalities, so proceed with caution.

4. Wisconsin

Best Ranking Factor: Types of Laws/Statutes: 29th

Worst Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 7th

Milwaukee is known as the Beer Capital of the World, but unfortunately, many of this state’s beer lovers seem to hit the road after a pint too many. Though Wisconsin has quite a few laws in place to prevent drunk driving, its DUI penalties are not as steep as other states.

3. Idaho

Best Ranking Factor: Cost Per Fatality Rank: 25th

Worst Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 3rd

The state known for its potatoes has another not-so-savory claim to fame. The cost-per-taxpayer of drunk driving fatalities may be relatively low, but it ranked fairly high in every other category. Idaho is at third place for lenient DUI penalties and fifth for the most DUI arrests.

2. Montana

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 17th

Worst Ranking Factor: Tied—Cost Per Fatality Rank (1st) and Types of Laws/Statutes (1st)

Montana is one of the top two least safe states in the nation for drunk driving, ranking #1 in two categories: Cost per Fatality, and Laws and Statutes for alcohol-related driving. It also has a relatively high rate of drunk driving fatalities. Yikes. Its best category was for strict DUI penalties, but #17 isn’t high enough to make much of a difference. Buckle up.

1. North Dakota

Best Ranking Factor: DUI Penalties: 24th

Worst Ranking Factor: Tied—Fatality Rank (1st) and DUI Arrests (1st)

Things are looking pretty bleak for North Dakota as far as road safety. It has the highest rate of alcohol-related fatalities in the country and the highest rate of DUI arrests. And the problem is costing the state a lot of money, too: it was ranked #2 in the nation for Cost per Fatality. Traffic cops in this state have their work cut out for them.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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