Drunk driving isn’t a one state problem. Even though some states have more drunk drivers than other states, no cities or towns in the entire nation are free of drunk drivers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that 4.2 million Americans said they drove drunk at least once in the month they were surveyed. This is despite law enforcement stopping people at checkpoints, despite public service announcements, and despite stiff penalties including jail time and driver’s license suspensions.
To get to the source of the problem, a group called Project Know released a report detailing how often people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in all 50 states. They came up with enough data to demonstrate exactly which states were producing the most drunk drivers, and even pinpointed which streets in select cities had the most DUI arrests.
To tabulate the data the researchers used DUI arrest records from the FBI and compiled them with Census Bureau findings as well as a 2014 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here are few of their finds:
North Dakota has the most drunk driving arrests
North Dakota had 90.12 arrests per 10,000 people, giving it top billing for drunk driving out of all 50 states. The researchers also noted that North Dakota’s jail time for drunk drivers doubled from 2013 to 2014.
The runners up
North Dakota’s neighbor South Dakota logged 70.21 arrests per 10,000 people, making it a close runner up to the top billing. South Dakota was followed by Wyoming with 64.06, Colorado with 52.04, and Idaho with 45.51 per 10,000 respectively.
The researchers believed that these states had the highest number of DUI arrests due to a few factors: they are geographically close together, they have a low population density, and they have limited options for car sharing and public transportation. That means there are fewer drivers on the road for police to stop, but when someone does decide to drive drunk, police have a higher chance of stopping them when they’re out on the road.
Drunk driving is an epidemic, and no one can explain why one person would decide drunk driving is OK for them while another would never put the keys in the ignition after a drink. What is known is that the best way to stop drunk drivers are ignition interlocks, and in North Dakota and South Dakota, interlocks aren’t mandatory for first or repeat offenders.
This is a list no one wants to be at the top of, and if these states don’t want to always receive top billing, they’ll decide to get on board and require ignition interlocks for all offenders.