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Drinking & Driving Statistics – Study Of Fatal Alcohol-related Auto Accidents

Drinking and driving is an epidemic. In the United States roughly 10,220 individuals die in drunk driving accidents annually. All of these drunk driving accidents are avoidable and preventable.

On average, more than 10,000 deaths occur every year as a result of alcohol-related auto accidents. These accidents cause significant pain and emotional hardship for the loved ones that have fallen victim to the negligent and dangerous actions of an impaired driver. In 2010, the financial costs of alcohol-related fatal auto accidents equated to more than 52.5 billion dollars in economic costs. Adjusted to inflation in 2021, the estimated financial costs of alcohol-related fatal accidents is 64.48 billion dollars annually.

The research conducted in this study examines the risk factors associated with age, sex, geographic location, correlations with high areas of drunk driving accidents and lack of public transportation and potential deterrents to drunk driving behavior.

Are Certain Individuals & Groups More Prone To Alcohol Impaired Drivers?

Depending on the age, sex and location of an individual (rural vs. urban), certain groups have a higher propensity to engage in risky alcohol-related driving behavior.

Females are much less likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident compared to the male counterpart. The highest levels of individuals involved in alcohol related accidents are individuals between the ages of 21 to 34 years old.

The number of individuals that suffered fatal injuries from an alcohol-related auto accident decreased with groups older than 34 years.

Males Vs. Females

Demographics play a role in the probability of certain groups to engage in risky behaviors including drunk driving. In 2017, men were more than four times as likely to be the driver in an alcohol related accident compared to females. A total of 8,022 fatal accidents occurred with males operating a vehicle, compared to 1,944 females.

What Age Groups Are Most Commonly Involved in Drunk Driving Accidents?

Depending on the age of an individual, the odds of being involved in an alcohol-related, or fatal alcohol-related accident, is far higher in the teenage years and before an individual turns 35. After one turns 35, the odds of being involved in a fatal alcohol-related auto accident decreases as an individual progresses with age.

Below are findings for individuals involved in fatal crashes from 2018:

16 – 20

Similar to the disparities between males and females, younger age groups are far more likely to be involved in drunk driving accidents than their older counterparts. In 2018, individuals with alcohol in their systems accounted for 15% of all fatal crashes for individuals in this age group.

21 to 24

In 2018, 27% of drivers between the ages of 21 to 24 involved in fatal crashes in the United States had a BAC of .08 or higher.

25 to 34

In 2018, 25% of individuals between the ages of 25 to 34 involved in fatal auto accidents had a BAC of .08 or higher.

35 to 44

In 2018, 21% of drivers between the ages of 35 to 44 years old involved in fatal auto accidents were impaired by alcohol and had a BAC of at least .08

45 +

45-54: Individuals with a BAC over .08% contributed to 19% of total fatal accidents in 2018 for individuals between 45 and 54 years old.

55-64: For individuals between 55 and 64 the percentage of fatal accidents with alcohol as a factor 15% in 2018.

65-75: Drunk driving was a contributing factor for individuals between 65 to 74. The number of alcohol-related fatal accidents accounted for 10% of all fatal auto accidents in the United States

75+: Alcohol was involved for seniors over the age of 74. In 2018, 7% of all fatal auto accidents in this age group involved individuals considered legally drunk.

How Many DUI Citations Occur In The United States?

In 2019, there were a total of 1,024,508 driving under the influence citations in the United States.

However, more than 12.6 million people in the United States reported driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs that cause driver impairment.

While these citations helped prevent further dangerous driving conditions, the number of alcohol related citations is alarming and is a small picture of a more prevalent problem in the United States regarding alcohol-impaired driving behavior. The number of driving under the influence citations is a small amount of the actual amounts of individuals that choose to engage in drunk or drugged driving behavior.

How Many Fatal Alcohol-related Accidents Occur Per Month in the United States?

The average amount of fatal drunk driving accidents equates to 852 accidents per month.

How Many Fatal Drunk Driving Accidents Occur Per Day in the United States?

In the United States, the average amount of fatal drunk driving accidents accounts for 28 fatal injuries a day.

How Many Fatal Alcohol-related Accidents Occur Per Hour in the United States?

In any given hour on any given day in the calendar year, 1.17 individuals per hour suffer fatal injuries from an alcohol-related auto accident in the USA. Individuals are more likely to suffer injuries in the evening, night and hours of the early morning.

What Time Do Most Alcohol Related Auto Accidents Occur?

Depending on the time of day or night, more alcohol related accidents occur between certain periods of time.

In 2019, a total of 5,735 single car or multi-car accidents occurred between the local hours of 6PM – 3AM. This nine hour timeframe accounted for 62% of all fatal alcohol-related accidents. Simply put, it is more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident during the evening, night and early morning hours of the day.

What States Have The Lowest Amounts of Fatal Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers

  • Indiana (.34/100,000 people)
  • Vermont (.64/100,000 people)
  • New Jersey (1.4/100,000 people)
  • New York (1.6/100,000 people)
  • Massachusetts (1.7/100,000 people)
  • Minnesota (1.9/100,000 people)
  • Rhode Island (1.9/100,000 people)
  • Utah (1.9/100,000 people)
  • Maryland (2/100,000 people)
  • Washington (2.2/100,000 people)

The list above identifies the states with the lowest rates of drunk driving accidents per 100,000 people. While New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland. All have densely populated states and districts and low levels of fatal alcohol-related accidents.

What Similarities Do the Lowest Amount of Alcohol Related Fatal Accident States Have?

The states with the lowest amounts of alcohol-related fatal accidents also share certain common characteristics. Four of the states New Jersey (1), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (4) and New York (6) are in the top twelve percent of States in the country with regards to population density.

These highly populated states also have densely populated metro areas with a high population concentration. According to a study on the best cities for public transportation Newark & Jersey City NJ, Boston MA, Baltimore MD and New York, NY all have high grades for public infrastructure.

What States Have The Highest Amounts of Fatal Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers?

Based on data analyzed from the CDC for the period between 2009-2018 several sparsely populated states checked in with high rates of fatal accidents with alcohol involvement. The ten states with the highest amount of fatal accidents per 100,000 people involving a drunk driver were:

  • Montana (7.4/100,000 people) (population density 7.42 residents/ square mile)
  • Wyoming (5.9/100,000 people) (population density 6 residents/ square mile)
  • South Carolina (5.7/100,000 people) (population density 11.78 residents/ square mile)
  • Mississippi (5.5/100,000 people) (population density 63.23 residents/ square mile)
  • New Mexico (5.2/100,000 people) (population density 17.36 residents/ square mile)
  • South Dakota (5.1/100,000 people) (population density 167.01 residents/ square mile)
  • Alabama (5/100,000 people) (population density 97.18 residents/ square mile)
  • Texas (5/100,000 people) (population density 39.54 residents/ square mile)
  • Louisiana (4.6/100,000 people) (population density 107.53 residents/ square mile)
  • Arkansas (4.4/100,000 people) (population density 58.25 residents/ square mile)
High Alcohol-related Fatal Accidents & Low Population Density 
State Accidents per 100,000 people (all ages) State Residents Per Square Mile 2020 State Population Rank Per Square Mile
Montana 7 7.42 47
Wyoming 5.9 6 49
South Carolina 5.7 11.78 44
Mississippi 5.5 63.23 31
New Mexico 5.2 17.36 43
South Dakota 5.1 11.78 45
Alabama 5 97.18 25
Texas 5 39.54 38
Louisiana 4.6 107.53 24
Arkansas 4.4 58.25 32


Contrary to densely populated urban areas and states with low alcohol-related auto accident deaths are the more sparsely populated states. Some of the highest rates of fatal auto accidents with alcohol as a contributing factor occur in these sparsely populated states.

Five of the ten least densely populated states appear in the top ten of fatal alcohol related accidents per 100,000 people. All of the states, with the exception of Louisiana (24th in population density) check in the top half with the highest fatal alcohol involved accidents per 100,000 people. 9/10 states appear in the bottom 50% of United States residents per square mile.

What Similarities Do the Highest Amount of Alcohol-related Fatal Accident States Have?

There are certain similarities that exist between all states with 4.4 deaths or higher per a population group of 100,000. These similarities include low state population densities and poor public transportation options in a state’s hub cities.

Generally speaking the lower the population density of a state, the higher the amount of fatal alcohol-related accidents per 100,000 people.

Do Low State Population Centers Contribute to Higher Fatal DUI Accidents?

When a state’s fatal accident involving a drunk driver was examined next to a state’s population density, a correlation existed between the two data sets. Several of the states with very low population densities, had a high amount of fatal accidents per 100,000 people in the United States.

These two data sets show a strong correlation between high rates of DUI accidents and sparsely populated states. Five of the ten highest states in drunk driving accidents per 100,000 people in 2020 were in the lowest 14% of states by population density. Wyoming (49), Montana, (47), South Carolina (44), New Mexico (43), South Dakota (45).

Of the other five other states that round out the list of highest fatal alcohol-related accidents per 100,000 in 2020, all except Louisiana (24) are in the lower half of states with regards to population density.

A correlation exists for sparsely populated areas and higher rates of fatal alcohol-involved auto accidents.


US States Fatal Alcohol Related Accidents & Population Density
State Ages 0-20:

Fatal Deaths per 100,000 population

Ages 21-34:

Fatal accidents involving alcohol per 100,000 population

Ages 35+:

Fatal accidents involving alcohol per 100,000 population

All ages:

Fatal accidents involving alcohol per 100,000 population

Pop Density/ Sq Mile
Alabama 0* 6.2 5.4 5 97.18
Alaska 0* 0* 0* 3.9 1.28
Arizona 1.3 6.9 4.2 4 65.33
Arkansas 0* 7.9 4.5 4.4 58.25
California 1.1 5.3 2.5 2.7 252.74
Colorado 0* 6.4 3.1 3.3 56.04
Connecticut 0* 7.4 3 3.2 734.92
Delaware 0* 0* 0* 2.9 506.32
Florida 1.4 8 3.5 3.8 405.45
Georgia 1 6.9 3.7 3.6 186.26
Hawaii 0* 0* 2.6 2.5 218.89
Idaho 0* 0* 3.8 3.3 22.11
Illinois 0* 5.1 2.4 2.4 226.73
Indiana 1.5 5.9 3.5 0.34 188.56
Iowa 0* 4.5 2.6 2.7 56.64
Kansas 0* 5.3 3.1 3 35.64
Kentucky 0* 5.1 3.5 3.1 113.37
Louisiana 1.7 9.4 4.4 4.6 107.53
Maine 0* 0* 2.9 3.1 43.78
Maryland 0* 4.3 1.9 2 623.99
Massachusetts 0* 3.5 1.6 1.7 883.68
Michigan 0.8 6.2 2.4 2.7 176.31
Minnesota 0* 3.3 2 1.9 71.07
Mississippi 0* 8.9 6 5.5 63.23
Missouri 1.3 8.6 3.6 3.9 89.52
Montana 0* 16.3 6.2 7.4 7.42
Nebraska 0* 7.1 3 3.4 25.22
Nevada 0* 4.4 3.2 2.9 28.59
New Hampshire 0* 0* 3.1 3.5 152.62
New Jersey 0* 2.7 1.4 1.4 1207.83
New Mexico 0* 8.6 5.5 5.2 17.36
New York 0.5 2.9 1.6 1.6 410.32
North Carolina 1.4 8.1 4 4.1 218.04
North Dakota 0* 0* 0* 3.8 11.09
Ohio 0.8 5.1 2.5 2.5 286.19
Oklahoma 0* 5.6 4.4 3.7 58.03
Oregon 0* 6.8 3.7 3.7 44.19
Pennsylvania 0.9 5 2.6 2.6 285.73
Rhode Island 0* 0* 0* 1.9 173.53
South Carolina 2.1 11 5.7 5.7 11.78
South Dakota 0* 0* 4.5 5.1 11.78
Tennessee 1.1 7 3.5 3.6 112.4
Texas 1.8 8.8 5.3 5 39.54
Utah 0* 4 1.8 1.9 67.63
Vermont 0* 0* 0* 0.64 217.52
Virginia 1.3 5.6 2.5 2.8 115.78
Washington 0* 4.7 1.9 2.2 74.25
West Virginia 0* 0* 3 3.2 107.7
Wisconsin 0 8.8 3 3.4 6
Wyoming 0 0 0 5.9 6

* Fatality rates based on fewer than 20 deaths have been suppressed

Does Public Transportation Help Minimize Drunk Driving Accidents?

The best cities for public transportation are outlined below:

  • Newark, NJ (#2 most densely populated district/state)
  • Baltimore, MD (#5 most densely populated district/state)
  • Long Beach, CA (#11 most densely populated district/state)
  • Philadelphia, PA (#10 most densely populated district/state)
  • Chicago, IL (#12 most densely populated district/state)
  • Jersey City NJ (#2 most densely populated district/state)
  • Washington, D.C. (#1 most densely populated district/state)
  • Boston, MA (#3 most densely populated district/state)
  • New York, NY (#7 most densely populated district/state)
  • San Francisco, CA (#11 most densely populated district/state)

There appears to be a strong correlation between good public transportation infrastructure in major population hubs of a state and lower rates of alcohol-related drunk driving accidents in these cities.

The higher the population of a city, the better the public transportation options tend to be. The lower the state’s capital/population hub the higher the rate of drunk driving accidents are reported.

What Can Be Done To Minimize and Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?

There are several deterrents and infrastructure options available that can help curb and minimize drunk driving accidents in the United States. As long as there is alcohol, and vehicles that require a human to operate the vehicle, there unfortunately will be individuals that choose to put others in danger as a result of their own negligent actions.

While there are several drunk driving deterrents and public policy campaigns in place, alcohol-related fatal accidents continue. Drunk driving checkpoints can help discourage drunk driving behavior and lower the dangers of drunk drivers on the road, for every one arrest made for a DUI/DWI, an estimated 500 to 2,000 drunk driving incidents go unpenalized in the United States.

Below are options that help curb and reduce dangerous drunk driving behaviors.

Public Transportation

Good public transportation infrastructure has a negative correlation with alcohol-related fatal accidents. Simply put, the better the public transportation in a given area, the lower the amount of alcohol related accidents occur per every 100,000 people.

Additional Patrol Vehicles in Popular Nightlife Areas

A higher saturation of police patrol units in popular nightlife areas can help deter individuals from engaging in risky drunk driving behaviors.

Sobriety Checkpoints

Drunk driving checkpoints that are widely announced and communicated to the public can help minimize the amount of drunk drivers on the roads. While drunk driving checkpoints are not conducted in all fifty states in the United States, evidence suggests that frequent sobriety checkpoints can reduce fatal alcohol related accidents between 18-24%.

These drunk driving checkpoints act as a deterrent against individuals that would otherwise consider operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. By publicly announcing sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement agencies can help deter the propensity of those that would otherwise operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Designated Drivers

Designating a driver is one of the best options to minimize drunk driving accidents. When going out designate an individual for a safe ride home. If none of the individuals in the group want to remain sober, it is imperative to find an alternate means of transportation to avoid the dangers of drunk driving.

Ridesharing Options

Ridesharing options like Uber and Lyft provide individuals a safe option to get from one point to another. Although studies have proven inconclusive on the effectiveness of ridesharing companies along with the impact of fatal accidents.

Certain studies have found a correlation to ridesharing companies and a reduction in drunk driving accidents. However, other studies have found inconclusive results when examining the correlation between ridesharing options and the impact and volume of drunk driving accidents.

While different studies have resulted in different conclusions, a sober driver is always much safer than an impaired driver. If an individual consumes alcohol it is the safest option for all motorists on the roadway to find a sober driver. Ridesharing options allow individuals that have been drinking to easily find a safe ride from one point to another.


Fatal auto accidents are more common in some states than others. In the United States of America, states that have densely populated urban areas with good public transportation options tend to have lower rates of alcohol-related fatal accidents.

Individuals that have access to good public infrastructure as an available means of transportation tend to suffer fatal injuries at a much lower rate compared to their counterparts in a different metropolitan area.

Accidents involving drunk drivers are more prevalent in densely populated states compared to states with higher populations per square mile. Males in sparsely populated areas between the ages of 16 and 35 are at the highest risk suffering a fatal auto accident.







Berkeley Safetrec

National Library of Medicine