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Last updated: December 11, 2023

Drunk Driving Statistics

Drunk driving is involved in about one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S.

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Even if you never participated in DARE, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program that took place in public schools from 1983 to 2009, you probably already know the risks of driving drunk. Alcohol slows your coordination and reaction times, hinders your judgment and blurs your vision, making your driving less than stellar. But do you know how big a problem drunk driving still is in the United States today?

Key Statistics: Driving After Drinking

How Many People Die From Alcohol-Related Crashes?

Alcohol-impaired driving is when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08, the legal limit in the U.S., or above. In the U.S., 32 people are killed in drunk-driving motor vehicle crashes every day.

In 2020, the most recent year that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published national data, 11,654 people died in drunk-driving crashes, a 14 percent increase from 2019. Drunk driving is involved in one in three fatal crashes in the U.S., making it one of the most common causes of motor vehicle fatalities.1

By Year

From 2006 to 2020, the number of drunk-driving fatalities decreased by 15 percent. While in 2006, 80 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol impairment, by 2020, that number had decreased to 78 percent, a trend we’d like to see continue in years to come.

Total fatal crashes with BAC 08 and above

By State

The worst state for drunk driving is Montana. In this state, 67 percent of fatal crashes in 2020 involved drunk driving. On the other end of the spectrum is Alaska, where only 35 percent of traffic fatalities were alcohol-related. The average across all states is 51 percent, accounting for about half of all motor vehicle deaths.

Note that the NHTSA records data based on the driver involved with the highest BAC, so if there are two drivers in the crash, one with a BAC of 0.00 (sober) and one with a BAC of 0.09 (drunk), the latter will be recorded and the accident will be considered alcohol-impaired.

State Percentage of fatal crashes with highest driver BAC of .08 and higher, 2020
Montana 67%
Rhode Island 66%
Connecticut 64%
Texas 63%
Oregon 62%
Maine 61%
Ohio 60%
Washington 58%
South Dakota 55%
Virginia 55%
Iowa 55%
North Dakota 55%
Wisconsin 55%
Illinois 53%
Missouri 53%
New Hampshire 53%
Maryland 53%
Hawaii 53%
California 52%
West Virginia 52%
New Mexico 52%
Nevada 52%
Nebraska 51%
Colorado 51%
New York 51%
North Carolina 51%
Massachusetts 50%
Idaho 50%
South Carolina 50%
Louisiana 50%
Michigan 49%
Wyoming 49%
Arizona 49%
Pennsylvania 49%
Indiana 48%
Minnesota 48%
Tennessee 47%
New Jersey 47%
Florida 47%
Oklahoma 47%
Arkansas 46%
Georgia 46%
Kentucky 45%
Alabama 45%
Vermont 44%
District of Columbia 43%
Mississippi 42%
Kansas 41%
Delaware 40%
Utah 38%
Alaska 35%

By Age

While teen drivers get a bad reputation for underage drinking and driving, the demographic that dies from drunk driving the most is adults ages 25 to 34. In 2020, 59 percent of fatal crashes among this age group involved drunk driving, compared to an average of 50 percent across all age groups.

That said, car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens. Learn more about this issue in our roundup of teen driver crash statistics.

The lowest drunk-driving rates in 2020 were found with senior drivers ages 75 and older. Less than a third of all traffic fatalities in that age group involved alcohol impairment. Generally, drunk driving peaks at age 34 and steadily declines through late adulthood.

Percentage of fatal crashes involving drunk driving in 2020

Drunk Driving vs. Gun Violence

In debates about gun laws, many people compare gun violence to drunk driving. But which kills more people in the U.S.?

Nationally, the answer is drunk driving. In 2020, for example, drunk driving killed 21,928 more people in the U.S. than guns, or 130 percent more, according to data from the Violence Policy Center.2

However, there are some states in which gun deaths outnumber drunk driving deaths. In Virginia, for example, there were 94 percent more gun deaths than drunk-driving deaths in 2020. Other states where gun violence deaths outweighed drunk-driving deaths include:

  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Alaska
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Delaware
  • Kansas
  • Pennsylvania

See your state’s comparison below.

State Number of gun deaths in 2020 Number of alcohol-impaired motor vehicle deaths in 2020
Alabama 1,141 1,318
Alaska 175 70
Arizona 1,265 1,718
Arkansas 673 861
California 3,449 6,937
Colorado 922 1,058
Connecticut 219 707
Delaware 135 133
District of Columbia 167 51
Florida 3,041 5,267
Georgia 1,897 2,431
Hawaii 50 151
Idaho 321 355
Illinois 1,745 2,146
Indiana 1,159 1,331
Iowa 351 599
Kansas 494 488
Kentucky 902 1,066
Louisiana 1,183 1,344
Maine 153 306
Maryland 803 1,045
Massachusetts 268 552
Michigan 1,454 1,829
Minnesota 513 557
Mississippi 818 910
Missouri 1,426 1,749
Montana 238 456
Nebraska 197 361
Nevada 547 565
New Hampshire 128 170
New Jersey 443 917
New Mexico 479 663
New York 1,052 1,802
North Carolina 1,699 2,486
North Dakota 100 170
Ohio 1,764 2,699
Oklahoma 826 964
Oregon 592 1,090
Pennsylvania 1,752 1,736
Rhode Island 54 429
South Carolina 1,131 169
South Dakota 120 1,639
Tennessee 1,473 247
Texas 4,164 1,840
Utah 429 9,203
Vermont 76 317
Virginia 1,174 72
Washington 864 1,501
West Virginia 325 1,179
Wisconsin 717 438
Wyoming 154 1,058


Utah had the largest disparity between the number of deaths from gun violence vs. drunk driving. In 2020, there were 9,203 DUI-involved deaths and only 429 gun deaths, a difference of 2,045 percent.

DUIs vs. DWIs

When it comes to drunk driving, you may hear a lot of acronyms thrown around: DUI, DWI, OWI, SR-22 and more. But what’s the difference between DUIs and DWIs?

  • DUIs: DUI stands for “driving under the influence” with a vehicle either in motion or, in some states, under a person’s control — meaning you can get a DUI for sitting in a parked car.3
  • DWIs: DWI, which stands for “driving while intoxicated,” is a more serious charge than DUI, as it refers exclusively to drinking and driving. Convictions are often based on BAC levels.

Are DUIs and DWIs Felonies?

Both DUIs and DWIs can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on whether it was a first offense and the results of the incident, such as any deaths or serious injuries. While misdemeanors typically result in a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, felonies could mean years in prison, thousands in fines, license suspension and a loss of voting rights in the most extreme cases.

How Alcohol Impairs Your Driving Ability

Whether you’re driving under the influence of just alcohol or mixing alcohol with drugs, your driving will be affected negatively. Here’s how.

Alcohol Alone

  • Impaired judgment: Alcohol makes it difficult to judge the speed and movement of other vehicles and the distance between them, making it easy to drift into other lanes or even run off the road.
  • Blurred vision: You may have double vision, which is more than a little distracting. Even with a BAC as low as .02 g/dl, your eyesight could be affected.
  • Inability to distinguish colors: Drunk drivers may find it difficult to distinguish colors in signals, roadway markings and traffic signs.
  • Slowed reaction times: Your reflexes aren’t as quick when you’re intoxicated, as alcohol is a depressant. That makes driving defensively difficult, if not impossible.

Alcohol and Drugs

  • Alcohol and marijuana: Combining alcohol and marijuana while driving can further slow your judgment, reaction times and coordination, exacerbating the effects of alcohol alone.
  • Alcohol and medications: Whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), some medications cause dizziness and drowsy driving. You should always ask your doctor or pharmacist before driving on medication, even if you’re not under the influence of alcohol too.

Risk Factors


In 2020, 5,268 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, 27 percent of whom had BACs of .08 or higher. This is the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers than for any other vehicle type. Zooming in on the data further, motorcyclists ages 45 to 49 had the highest rate of drunk-driving deaths, with 35 percent of traffic fatalities in that demographic involving drunk driving.


Speeding is also related to drunk driving, according to data from the National Safety Council. One-third of speeding drivers who died in traffic accidents in 2020 were drunk. Learn more about teen speeding.

People with Prior Convictions

Not surprisingly, people with previous convictions for driving while impaired were more likely to die in fatal crashes compared to those with no prior conviction — four times more likely, to be specific.

Consequences of Drunk Driving


Of course, it’s illegal to drive drunk in every state and doing so can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge. A drunk-driving conviction could result in:

  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Ignition interlock requirement
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Legal fees
  • SR-22 requirement


An SR-22 is a form that proves you have the minimum coverage your state requires in car insurance. However, some states require FR-44s, which require more coverage than the bare minimum.


Aside from the legal fees you may have to pay following a drunk-driving conviction, there’s also the increased cost of car insurance with a DUI on your record. On average, you can expect your insurance rate to increase by 80 percent, with some insurers raising premiums anywhere from 28 percent to 371 percent. That increase will affect your insurance rates until your DUI is off your motor vehicle report, after which your rates should go back to normal.

However, getting a DUI off your motor vehicle report could take years and, in the meantime, you’ll have issues finding affordable insurance as you’ll be considered a high-risk or nonstandard driver. To explore your options, check out our recommendations for the best high-risk auto insurance.


It’s no secret that drunk driving can cause property damage, injuries and death.

How to Drink Responsibly and Prevent Drunk Driving

  • Choose a designated driver: Before you go out, designate one person in your friend group to be your sober driver.
  • Don’t let others drink and drive: If you see a drunk person trying to drive, take their keys away from them.
  • Use other modes of transportation: Rather than driving yourself, use other modes of transportation such as public transit, rideshares or taxis.
  • Wear your seatbelt: Seatbelts can greatly reduce your risk of injuries or death, no matter who’s behind the wheel.


While driving home tipsy may not seem like a big deal, it can produce lifelong consequences. But with the proliferation of rideshare services like Uber, drinking and driving is becoming less common in the U.S. It’s certainly worth the money if you have no safer option!


We used third-party sources to create this report, including:

  • National Safety Council
  • Nolo
  • Violence Policy Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What percent of the population has driven drunk?

According to 2020 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 7 percent of U.S. residents ages 16 and older admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in the prior year.

What’s the drunkest place on earth?

France had the highest average number of days where people consumed alcohol in 2020: 132 days out of 365 (about 36 percent of the time). People in the U.S., in contrast, drank about 22 percent of the time, according to the 2021 Global Drug Survey.

What is the DUI capital of the U.S.?

The DUI capital of the U.S. is Montana. In 2020, 67 percent of fatal crashes involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher, compared to a national average of 51 percent, according to the NHTSA.

What city has the most DUIs in the U.S.?

According to 2020 data from the NHTSA, the city with the highest number of drunk driving deaths is Los Angeles. Out of 2,606 fatal crashes that year, 1,391 involved drivers with BACs of .08 or higher, or 53 percent. City-specific data on DUI convictions is not available nationally.


  1. Drunk Driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2023).

  2. Gun Deaths Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in 34 States and the District of Columbia in 2020. Violence Policy Center. (2022, Apr).

  3. DUI and DWI Overview. NOLO. (2023).

  4. Motor Vehicle Safety Issues: Speeding. National Safety Council Injury Facts. (2023).