Drunk Driving Stats: Which State Has the Most Drunk Driving Accidents?

A man holding a beer while driving down the road

With more than 10,000 traffic fatalities involving alcohol1 in the United States each year, drunk driving is a serious problem for anybody on the road. Law enforcement and community awareness groups work to understand the problem and how these preventable deaths can be avoided.

To learn more, it can be helpful to know drunk driving facts and where the most alcohol-related car accidents occur. Our Tampa DUI accident attorneys share more details.

Drunk Driving Accident Fatalities in the US

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1, California has the most alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. They had 1,120 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2017. Florida is second with 839 drunk driving deaths in 2017.

The District of Columbia had the least drunk driving deaths in 2017, with 16 drunk driving accidents. Vermont had 18 alcohol-related accident fatalities in 2017, and Alaska had 22, according to American Addiction Centers2.

Understanding Drunk Driving Fatalities by State per Capita

Although California has the most total drunk driving deaths, they also have the largest population. On the other hand, Wyoming has the smallest population3 of any U.S. state.

However, a recent analysis4 looked at drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 people. It turns out Wyoming has the highest frequency of driving fatalities with 7.60 deaths per 100,000 people. California doesn’t even make the list of the top 5 states for drunk driving deaths per capita.

States with the least drinking and driving deaths per capita have dense urban populations, including Texas (0.63 fatalities per 100,000), New Jersey (1.39 fatalities per 100,000 people), and New York (1.49 fatalities per 100,000 people).

After being injured in a drunk driving accident, you may have questions. Contact our team today to schedule a FREE case evaluation.

What Influences Drinking and Driving Fatality Numbers?

There are several factors that may influence the number of driving under the influence of alcohol deaths per year in a state, including:

  • The percent of adults who regularly operate a motor vehicle
  • The geographic terrain
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Laws in place to prevent drunk driving
  • Law enforcement efforts

Other Drinking and Driving Statistics

American Addiction Centers², referencing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shared these statistics about Americans who drink and drive:

  • The most drunk driving fatalities of any age group occur in ages 25-342.
  • There were 2,843 driving fatalities for ages 25-34 where the driver had a bodily alcohol content of .08 or more in 2017.
  • The number represents 28% of all drunk driving fatalities.
  • Drivers ages 75+ have the least drunk driving fatalities of any age group, followed by drivers ages 16-20.
  • Men account for 80.4% of all drunk drivers.

Are Criminal Drunk Driving Laws the Same in Every State?

Criminal drunk driving laws vary from state to state, but they are all similar. In most states, the legal limit for drinking and driving is a .08 bodily alcohol content based on breath or blood. In addition, commercial drivers have stricter requirements, with violations starting at a bodily alcohol content of .04.

The reason that states have similar laws is because of federal incentives that have encouraged states5 to have at least these standards for drunk driving. In addition, all states have implied consent laws that require drivers to submit to chemical testing if they are suspected of drunk driving.

However, one state is stricter. Utah passed a law that reduced the legal limit to a .05 bodily alcohol content6 for all drivers.

A police officer with a police car in the background

Different State Drunk Driving Laws

Within the standard legal limit of .08 bodily alcohol content (except Utah), the different states tweak their driving under the influence (DUI) laws and penalties to fit the needs of their populations.

Laws for Minors and Drunk Driving

Most states have a zero tolerance7 law for minors who drive with a bodily alcohol content. Most states, including Florida, use .02 for the standard. However, several states use .00, like Illinois, Maine, and Arizona.

High Bodily Alcohol Content Laws

Similarly, states have varying standards when it comes to high bodily alcohol content drunk driving8 cases. The theory is that drivers with very a high bodily alcohol content pose the highest risk to others. In addition, lawmakers theorize that these drivers are the most likely to have a serious drinking problem, needing the most intervention.

A handful of states do not have high bodily alcohol content laws. In states that have them, enhanced penalties start as low as a .10 bodily alcohol content in New Jersey. Florida joins with most states using .15 as the standard for high bodily alcohol content cases.

The states with the highest levels for enhanced bodily alcohol penalties are Idaho, Massachusetts, and Tennessee with .20 as the cutoff to reach enhanced penalties for drunk people getting behind the wheel. Additional penalties may include more treatment intervention, a longer license suspension and more exposure to potential jail time.

Drugged Driving Laws

Just as states have varying standards for enhanced drunk driving penalties, standards also vary when it comes to standards for driving under the influence of drugs. Knowledge of the dangers of drugged driving, including driving under the influence of marijuana, are still developing. Law enforcement professionals are still developing ways to detect drugged driving9 and test suspected offenders.

How Many People Die From Alcohol-Related Accidents in Florida?

rollover car accident

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles10, 746 drunk driving fatalities occurred in Florida in 2020. The figure represents a significant decrease from 2019.

Were you hurt after an accident involving a drunk driver? You deserve justice. Contact our experienced Tampa attorneys for a free consultation today.

Do Rideshare Services Decrease Drunk Driving?

According to MADD, rideshare services likely decrease incidents of drunk driving11. Rideshare services may bridge the gap of alternative transportation options, helping people make other choices than driving impaired.

Allowing people to conveniently arrange for transportation using their phones may make it less likely that they get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.

Is There Legal Liability for Drunk Driving?

Drinking alcohol and driving means you are legally liable for the harm that you cause. All 50 states consider drunk driving to be serious misconduct that can be the grounds for legal liability. A victim may claim financial compensation through a civil personal injury claim regardless of whether the state authorizes criminal charges.

Drunk Driving Car Accident Civil Attorneys

If you have been injured by drunk driving, a civil personal injury attorney can help you bring a legal claim. In Florida and throughout the United States, a person who hurts others by drinking and driving must pay damages for the harm that results to others.

Violation of a state drunk driving law is strong evidence of wrongdoing and legal liability. If someone decides to get drunk and operate a motor vehicle, they should be held accountable. Our car accident attorneys can help victims receive financial compensation by filing a legal claim. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.


1National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Drunk DrivingRetrieved 21 January 2022.

2American Addiction Centers. Worst States for Drunk Driving CrashesRetrieved 21 January 2022.

3Statista. (20 January 2021). Resident population of the U.S. in 2020, by state (including the District of Columbia). Retrieved 21 January 2022.

4Covington, Taylor. (6 July 2021). States With the Most Drunk Driving Problems. The Zebra. Retrieved 21 January 2022.

5US Department of Transportation (DOT). A SUMMARY – Improving Safety. Retrieved 21 January 2022.

6Utah Department of Public Safety. New .05 BAC LawRetrieved 21 January 2022.

7FLA. STAT. § 322.2616 (2011)

8FLA. STAT. § 316.193 (2021)

9International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)Retrieved 21 January 2022.

10FLHSMV. (1 March 2021). Florida Sees Fewer Impaired-Driving Fatalities in 2020, FLHSMV Launches ‘Never Drive Impaired’ Campaign. Retrieved 21 January 2022.

11Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Rideshare saves lives! Retrieved 21 January 2022.