James G. Wigmore, Forensic Toxicologist, Speaker, Author

In a recent special report posted on the 24/7 Wall St website by Vince Calio (April 25th 2014), the ten worst states for drunk driving deaths were summarized.

The report in itself is alarming as you would think that after 40+ years since the introduction of the Breathalyzer, we would be making so much progress that such reports would no longer be needed. Sadly, this is not the case and as you will learn from the report, in some states the stats are getting worse. The following table lists the offending States:

*Alabama was the state with the lowest number of arrests for drunk driving

The states with the highest drunk driving deaths tend to have also one or more risk factors for drunk driving as listed in the table such as:

  • High beer consumption: beer is the most common alcoholic beverage consumed by male drinking drivers (WOA10401, 10608)

  • High percentage of minors drinking: young drivers are more impaired by low BACs than older drivers and tend to take greater risks (WOA50504-5)

  • High percentage of binge drinkers: drinking drivers tend to be binge drinkers, such as drinking heavily only on the weekend (when most alcohol-related MVCs occur) or after college exams (WOA50211)

In addition, most of the top ten worst states are largely rural which makes the option of public transit difficult. Also, the many miles of isolated rural roads make law enforcement countermeasures challenging and not as visible to the driving public.

North Dakota – A Perfect Storm for Drunk Driving Deaths?

While the number of drunk driving fatalities in the US in general has fallen 23% between 2002 and 2012, the number of drunk driving fatalities in North Dakota actually increased by 64% over the same time period. Other factors such as North Dakota having the highest beer consumption per capita in the US, as well as the second highest percentage of binge drinkers and ranking 3rd in the percentage of underage drinkers, have all combined to give North Dakota the dubious distinction of being the worst state in the Union for drunk driver fatalities.


I would like to acknowledge one of my first connections on LinkedIn, Ashley Heiberger, who brought this study to my attention.