The worst states for drinking and driving
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
Based on Bankrate’s latest analysis of the best and worst states for drinking and driving, drunk driving laws help deter drivers and shape healthier attitudes toward alcohol. For example, some of the states that report the least overindulgence with alcohol are Alaska and Rhode Island, both of which also have some of the lowest drunk driving fatalities in the country and ranked as the second and third best states in the country for the least amount of drinking and driving. According to our study, Texas, California and Florida are the worst states for drinking and driving in the U.S. and also report the most drunk driving fatalities.
Drinking and driving in the U.S.
- Texas, California and Florida account for nearly 30% of the total alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. from 2008 to 2019.
- Vermont, Alaska and Rhode Island reported the lowest amount of alcohol overindulgence and had the fewest vehicle crashes attributed to alcohol during that period.
- Texas had the most fatalities from alcohol, drugs and medication with 13,592 in 2019, compared to just six deaths in Washington, D.C. the same year.
- South Dakota has some of the laxest laws in the U.S. for drinking and driving based on our criteria, with no laws for automatic license revocation or the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock after a DUI conviction and no child endangerment laws related to drinking and driving.
- The percentage of adults who admit to over-drinking is highest in Iowa and Nebraska, where 3 percent of adults admitted to overindulging compared to the national average of 1.7 percent.
Drinking and driving behavior by state
One of the best ways to determine how drunk driving affects a particular state is to look at the total number of people that die each year from alcohol-related crashes. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the number of drunk fatalities each year and compiles a report to show long-term activity on a state-by-state basis.
Using the number of alcohol-related vehicle fatalities spanning from 2009 to 2018 as a primary factor and the percentage of adults who admit to over-drinking as a secondary factor, we determined a Bankrate ranking of the best and worst states for drunk driving. According to the CDC, the national average percentage of adults who admit to overdrinking is 1.7%. We also included the average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after a DUI in each state.
The best and worst states for drinking and driving
(from worst to best)
|State||Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2009-2018||Percentage of adults who admit to over-drinking||Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after a DUI|
To take a more detailed look at each state, we also considered drunk driving laws and penalties to determine which states are the best and worst for drinking and driving. The MADD ratings provided for each state are out of five stars, with five being the highest score possible in terms of how the state performs regarding its laws to help prevent drinking and driving.
Which states rank the worst for drinking and driving?
The three worst states for drinking and driving, according to our research, are:
While population no doubt plays a factor in the number of alcohol-related fatalities in these states, there is no denying that just these three states collectively experience more vehicle deaths from alcohol than the rest of the country. These three had more than 30,453 deaths from 2008 until 2019, compared to the total number of 102,657 U.S. deaths. Incidentally, these three states also rank the highest in the U.S. for road rage, adding to your risk behind the wheel, and had the most accidents attributed to alcohol, drugs and medication.
2019 MADD score: 3.0
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 13,592
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 593
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 2.20%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $1,008
As one of the largest states in the U.S., Texas also has some of the most drivers in the country, thus increasing the risk of dangerous behaviors, like drinking and driving. It also has the highest number of alcohol-related fatalities. The average annual cost for full coverage car insurance in Texas before a DUI is $1,823, but that increases by $1,008 after a DUI conviction for a total of $2,831, on average.
2019 MADD score: 3.0
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 9,288
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 752
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 1.50%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $3,098
When it comes to alcohol, California ranks solidly in second place in our study. It has the second-highest number of alcohol-related fatalities on our list. California also has some of the rudest drivers in the U.S. The average annual premium for full coverage car insurance in California before a DUI is already pretty high at $2,065, but that will increase by an average of 150% to $5,163 after a DUI conviction.
2019 MADD score: 2.5
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 7,573
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 412
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 2.00%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $1,139
In our study, Florida ranks solidly in third place for the worst states for drinking and driving with the third-highest number of alcohol-related fatalities. With such a high likelihood of alcohol fatalities and other types of car crashes, Florida is also one of the most expensive states for car insurance in the country. The average annual full coverage car insurance premium in Florida is $2,364 before a DUI, but that will increase by an average of $1,139 post-DUI conviction.
Which states rank the best for drinking and driving?
Not all states ranked poorly for drinking and driving in our study. The three best states for drinking and driving in the U.S. based on our research are:
Of the nearly 274,000 registered vehicles in the U.S., Alaska, Vermont, and Rhode Island all have the lowest car ownership rates in the state, which means fewer drivers on the road. Another factor that these three states have in common is that they have the fewest number of accidents attributed to alcohol, drugs and medication. While no state is entirely free of drinking and driving-related incidents, these states have fewer alcohol-related fatalities than most other states on our list.
2019 MADD score: 3.0
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 186
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 12
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 1.80%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $1,633
Vermont has the least rude drivers in the entire country and, seemingly, some of the very best attitudes toward alcohol, with the least number of adults who admit to overdrinking. For adults who do decide to drink and drive, though, the financial cost is steep. While Vermont has some of the lowest average annual full coverage car insurance premiums in the country before a DUI at just $1,207, the average driver could see those premiums increase by about 135% after a DUI conviction.
2019 MADD score: 3.5
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 215
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 8
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 2.60%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $858
Alaska is the biggest state in the U.S., but it also has fewer drivers on the road, which may be one reason that it ranks pretty well in terms of alcohol-related fatalities. Drivers in Alaska don’t take quite as big a hit on their car insurance premiums after a DUI conviction, either. The average annual full coverage car insurance premium pre-DUI in Alaska is $1,559, and drivers will see an average of a 55% increase after a DUI conviction.
2019 MADD score: 1.5
Total alcohol-related fatalities, 2008-2019: 247
Alcohol, drugs and medication-related fatalities in 2019: 14
Average percentage of adults who overdrink: 1.90%
Average annual full coverage car insurance premium increase after DUI: $1,677
Rhode Island rounds out the top three states with the best attitudes toward alcohol and overdrinking in our study. Its MADD score is one of the lowest on our list, however, so that state has some work to do in terms of its laws related to drinking and driving. Drivers can expect to pay an average of 83% more for their full coverage car insurance premium per year in Rhode Island after a DUI conviction.
Indeed, where you live matters in the U.S. when it comes to your exposure to alcohol behind the wheel. Drinking and driving remains all too prevalent in the United States today, but research shows that attitudes are shifting and legislative efforts are working to help deter the everyday driver from combining the dangers of alcohol with the risk of driving.
To determine how each state ranks for drinking and driving, we looked primarily to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Transportation Safety State Fact Sheets for the total number of alcohol-related fatalities from 2009 to 2018 and the percentage of adults who admit to over-drinking.
Our Bankrate team also considered data from these leading sources as secondary metrics to present a well-rounded portrait of the state of drinking and driving in the U.S. and how it impacts American lives:
- U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Related Factors for Drivers Involved In Fatal Crashes for the total fatalities from alcohol, drugs and medication in 2019.
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for its 2019 Report to the Nation showing state-by-state 2019 MADD Scores and drunk driving laws.
- Bankrate’s True Cost of Auto Insurance study for the average annual increase of full coverage car insurance costs after a DUI conviction in each state.