The 5 Worst States for Drunk Driving Deaths According to the NHTSA

You might just want to stay in for New Year's Eve if you're in Wyoming or South Carolina.

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to break out the bubbly and celebrate the end of this garbage year, but some sobering National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data reminds us why we should agree to either sleep at the party house for the night, or keep a designated driver handy. 


Safewise put together this state-by-state breakdown of the deadliest states for impaired driving deaths using NHTSA data from 2017. Wyoming was the worst, with 7.59 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people, followed by South Carolina. Here’s the breakdown of the top five states where you’re most likely to die at the hands of an impaired driver, per 2017’s data: 

Screencap via Safewise

Eighty percent of the states in the top five—with Wyoming being the only exception—were there in 2016’s data as well, Safewise notes. Lax drunk driving laws may be a contributing factor in these stats. Of these top five states, only South Carolina has any kind of minimum jail time for first-time DUI offenses. Four of the top five states also don’t require alcohol abuse assessments or treatment for DUI convictions, which means that offenders aren’t as likely to learn from their prior mistakes. The average minimum fine for a first DUI conviction is only $300 in these states, whereas it’s $524 in the five states with the lowest number of deaths. 

Yet Safewise’s analysis of the NHTSA stats also shows that that things can change for the better. Wyoming replaced Montana in the list of top five deadliest states this year, after Montana had a whopping 9.58 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people in 2016. The following year, Montana ranked 27th on the list for deadliest drunk drivers, with 5.33 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Meanwhile, you’ve got less to worry about in these five states, which had the fewest impaired driving deaths last year: 

Screencap via Safewise

While it isn’t a surprise to see Utah on this list with its strict regulation of all things booze, it also looks like your cousin in dirty Jerz is finally behaving himself. 

For once, I am begging you all to be more like New Jersey. Make it home from New Year’s—or any party for that matter—safely, with a sober driver behind the wheel. As for the next morning, well, I recommend a delightfully savory pork roll and egg bagel to soak up the headache. Jersey has the right idea there, too. 

To help the worst states on this list turn things around in 2019, Safewise is offering $10 Lyft rides for New Year’s Eve to the first 100 residents of each of the top five deadliest states who apply for it here. You can also see where your state lands in the rankings on the full state-by-state (plus D.C.) breakdown on Safewise