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Have you ever found yourself on the road late at night, just wondering how many drunk drivers might be out on the road with you? Drunk driving is an expensive problem. But it’s not just about the money. We’ll never be able to calculate the cost of precious lives and the toll taken on those affected by the tragic loss of loved ones.
We’ve compiled stats from a number of sources to reveal where you’re most likely to run into a drunk driver, and we also found out how much you as a taxpayer are having to pay out of pocket because of drunk driving accidents in your home state.
States are always working to discourage drinking and driving with all kinds of enforcement policies, fees, penalties, and restrictions, but the responsibility will always be on the individual to choose not to endanger his or her own life, as well as the lives of others.
We have included 2 categories related to DUI Penalties and Types of Drunk Driving Laws to show you how the states compare when it comes to enforcement. Drunk driving is never worth the risk, and we can only hope that one day we will no longer have to worry about anyone driving under the influence! Perhaps self-driving cars will put an end to this issue once and for all.
The rankings for this study are based on statistics made available to the public by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, KIDS COUNT Data Center, and DrivingLaws.org.
Each state is ranked according to the following categories:
- Cost per Fatality by State (Drunk Driving Fatalities per 1,000,000 Population and Taxpayer Subsidy per Drunk Driving Fatality by State)
- Drunk Driving (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that Involved Alcohol)
- DUI Arrests (Arrests of Minors and Adults that were Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) related per 1,000,000 Population)
- DUI Penalties (State Penalties for 1st-time DUI Offenders and Repeat DUI Offenders ranked against the Nation’s Average Penalties)
- Laws/Statutes (Percentage of Drunk Driving Fatalities by State per State’s amount of Drunk Driving Laws and Statutes)
We translated all of this information into one Total Score, and the worst states received the lowest scores.
For example, the states with the worst rating for our DUI Arrests (total DUI arrests per population), North Dakota and South Dakota, each earned just 1 point in this category, and the state with the lowest arrests, District of Columbia, received a score of 51.
The lower the score, the worse the state’s drunk driver ranking.
For all media inquiries, please email: Tyler Spraul
Top 10 Worst States for Drunk Driving
Drunk driving may result in a fatality, which is the worst possible outcome. There could be one fatality or multiple fatalities; no destination is worth risking someone else’s life! Our Fatality Rank score was based on driving fatalities with a blood alcohol content of .01 or higher.
The ranking is based on a summation of two separate rankings:
- The state’s drunk driving-related fatalities for Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) .01-.07 divided by the total amount of driving-related fatalities
- The state’s drunk driving-related fatalities for Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) .08+ divided by the total amount of driving-related fatalities.
These two subcategories help differentiate between the legal BAC amount and the illegal BAC amount (.08 Per Se Law) to highlight the sad fact that fatalities still occur with a legal BAC score.
Cost per Fatality by State
There are three serious outcomes from drunk driving:
- Bodily and property damage
- The associated cost for the taxpayers.
According to 2011 data from MADD, “Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.”
This annual amount for drunk-driving is absurd – the projected total annual amount would be enough to purchase 3.77 million Tesla Model 3 vehicles!
Drunk driving is still being highly subsidized by every American – by taxes, higher insurance rates and victims having to deal with the emotional toll of injury or losing a loved one.
– MADD’s state legislative affairs manager, Frank Harris
Let us fight to reduce the burden on the victims and their families, as well as the state taxpayers – please do not drink and drive!
This category was based on the total DUI arrests for both minors (under 18 years of age) and adults ( 18 years old and older) and then divided by the estimated population of each state.
Delving deeper, we break down the rankings based on the state with the most DUI arrests for a minor, DUI arrests of an adult, DUI arrests as a percentage of the state’s total arrests, and total DUI arrests as a percentage of the state’s population.
The DUI penalties were based on jail time, licenses suspensions, and maximum fines for the first, second, and third drunk driving offense.
Repeat offenders should know better than to operate a vehicle while impaired; therefore, most states levy harsher minimum sentences for second and third offenses. If a state has no mandatory minimum sentence for an offense, the average for all the states that do have a minimum was added to states without a minimum.
States offenses with a “no mandatory minimum sentence” are highlighted in yellow in our data table for the reader’s viewing pleasure.
Laws and Statutes
Each state was ranked based on the amount of types of laws and statutes in place to fight drunk driving. While this data may not provide a direct causation relationship, proving what reduces drunk driving, it is interesting to review what states enforce which laws and statutes.
Laws regarding Vehicular Homicide and the .08 Per Se Law are enforced nationwide. There is a small correlation between the amount of types of laws and statues, and the amount of Drunk Driving related fatalities.
To better assess the truly most dangerous state, our team analyzed the collective data from our sources and compiled our study.
Each category, while pressing and indicative of how impacting drunk driving can be on a personal and state level, is not equivalent. Therefore, our team decided the best way to present the “Most Dangerous State” would be to funnel the rankings through weighted measures.
Each weight is representative of the severity of the category.wpDataTable with provided ID not found!
As you can see from the graph below, there is a strong correlation between the Final State Rankings (non-weighted) and the Weighted Final State Rankings.
Click here for interactive chart (click image to enlarge)
In our study, we opted to highlight the weighted rankings over the non-weighted based on the level of significance for each category – a fatality having the most impact. The weighted rankings are displayed in the table below, and the non-weighted rankings are displayed in the expandable banner below.
Here are some trends we pulled from our study:
No “Quick Fixes” to the Drunk Driving Problem
Our study demonstrated there is no “silver bullet” to resolving drunk driving issues. DUI Penalities, DUI arrests, and the types of laws and statutes in place many not directly affect the outcome on fatalities and the cost to the taxpayers.
However, we applaud the states that are seeking to indirectly discourage impaired drivers from getting on the road. While the data shows categorical inconsistency, like South Carolina ranking well DUI penalties but #3 for DUI fatalities, there are certain states demonstrating that being tough on drunk driving does pay off!
Florida had one of the study’s most aggressive DUI penalties, and it showed when their fatality rank came in at #41 and their DUI arrests were #44.
States with Popular Destinations are not affected by Vacationers
We were surprised to find that states with a high influx of visitors were not in our top rankings. Popular spring break and vacation destinations such as Florida, California, Hawaii, and New York did not make our Top Worst Drunk-Driving States.
In reality, it was quite the contrary. With our top spots going to Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota, we can only blame the local’s alcohol consumption at this point.
Complete Rankings: Worst on Combating Drunk Driving
– To view and sort the table by category, click on header columns.
– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category.
For all media inquiries, please email: Tyler Spraul
Our study implemented weighted measures to demonstrate the impact each manifestation of a category can have on a person, community, and state. Each weight is representative of the severity of the category.
|STATE||COST PER FATALITY||DUI ARRESTS||DUI PENALTIES||LAWS/STATUTES||TOTAL SCORE||FINAL RANK|
|District of Columbia||1.20||12.75||4.40||1.30||35.05||44|
These weighted scores are necessary to deduce the most dangerous state. The final rankings, which determines the worst state, are not perfectly correlated with the final scores of the non-weighted rankings, which determines the worst state per category.