Drunk Driving Arrests Happen Most Often in North Dakota

Drunk driving is one of the largest contributors to traffic fatalities in the United States. Thankfully, the number of DUIs nationwide has fallen in the past few decades since stricter laws went into effect. But the message still doesn’t seem to have gotten through to folks who continue to drink and drive despite the risk of deadly accidents.

This is particularly true in North Dakota, which ranks number one on an unfortunate list. 

How is the rate of drunk driving calculated?

A man is arrested for drunk driving while police Sgt. Dawn White removes an open bottle of whiskey from his car in North Dakota
A DUI arrest in North Dakota / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Insurify, an auto insurance price comparison site, crunched the numbers to calculate the rate of impaired driving in each of the 50 states. The site did so based on information compiled from over two million car insurance applications. 

When a potential customer applies for auto insurance, their application includes information on whether they have been cited for a DUI in the past seven years. Insurify calculates the percentage of drivers with a history of drunk driving by dividing that number by the total number of drivers. 

To round out its figures, Insurify has also calculated the percentage of drivers with an accident on their record in each state. In addition, it provides information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the percentage of adults in each state who fall into the category of excessive drinkers.  

North Dakota has the most drunk drivers

According to Insurify’s calculations, North Dakota ranks first on the list of the states with the highest percentage of drivers having a DUI. 

Drivers in North Dakota have a rate of intoxicated driving that more than doubles the national average of 2.27%. In the Peace Garden State, a whopping 5.17% of drivers have a DUI on their record. 

To be sure, it’s not a total shock that drivers in North Dakota end up with DUIs at such a high rate. After all, nearly 25% of its residents report drinking excessively. And with so many intoxicated drivers on the road, it’s pretty much inevitable that alcohol-related accidents in the state will be prevalent. Of all the traffic fatalities that occur in North Dakota, over 43% involve drunk driving. 

Notably, North Dakota has risen to the top of the list of states with drunk driving problems only in the past few years. As recently as 2018, it ranked fourth, Background Checks shows. That year, Wyoming was first. 

Many of the other states high on the list are similar to North Dakota

Most states topping the list with the most DUI arrests seem to have much in common. Wyoming ranks second on that list, while South Dakota comes in third and Wisconsin fourth. Alaska ranks fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 are Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Iowa. It would seem that living in cold, remote places, particularly in the northern Midwest, can have an outsize impact on people’s drinking and driving habits. Insurify speculates that fewer population centers and more open roads might contribute to the high rates of impaired driving because it can be challenging to find alternatives such as public transportation

Drunk driving is a threat to everyone on the nation’s roadways. In fact, that almost 30 people per day die as a result of accidents involving impaired driving, Insurify reports. So if you ever find yourself tempted to get behind the wheel after drinking, think again, and call a friend or ridesharing service to pick you up. 

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