The Safest and Most Dangerous Roads on New Year’s Eve

Dec 19, 2018 |
Highest Rate of Impaired Driving Deaths

*Rankings may change as this post is updated according to the most recent impaired driving data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

New Year’s Eve rings in more than the dawn of a new year—it’s also one of the deadliest nights on our nation’s roads. It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, but one too many toasts before getting behind the wheel can turn revelry into tragedy.

While all states have drunk drivers, some have more than others. With New Year’s Eve approaching, we thought it would be helpful to identify the states where you’re most likely to run into drunk driving danger—and the ones where the roads should be safer. To find the most dangerous states, we looked at the most recent data for impaired driving deaths from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.¹

But we’re not stopping at just the facts. We’re extending our SafeWise for Safe Rides Home campaign to help folks in the five worst states start off the new year safely. Studies show that using ride-sharing services (like Uber and Lyft) can lead to a decrease in drunk driving crashes and DUIs.²

If you live in one of the most dangerous states for drunk driving deaths, we want to help you get a sober ride home this New Year’s Eve. See if your state landed on the list.

States with the Most Drunk Driving Deaths in 2017

State Impaired Driving Deaths per 100,000 People
1. Wyoming 7.59
2. South Carolina 6.22
3. North Dakota 6.08
4. New Mexico 5.74
5. Alabama 5.49

States with the Fewest Drunk Driving Deaths

State Impaired Driving Deaths per 100,000 People
1. New Jersey 1.38
2. New York 1.48
3. Minnesota 1.52
4. Utah 1.70
5. Massachusetts 1.74

A Closer Look at Drunk Driving in the Most Dangerous States

  • 80% of the most dangerous states were also in the top five in 2016—Wyoming is the only newcomer, replacing Montana as the state with the most impaired driving deaths per capita.
  • Montana went from the state with the most dangerous roads (9.58 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people in 2016) to number 27, with 5.33 deaths per 100,000.
  • Wyoming climbed from eighth place (5.98 deaths/100,000) to the worst state for impaired driving fatalities, topping the list with 7.59 deaths per capita in 2017.
  • Every state in the five worst (except Wyoming) decreased its rate of drunk driving deaths year over year in 2017.
  • 80% of the worst states have no minimum jail time for first-time DUI offenders. South Carolina is the outlier with two days for a first offense.³
  • The majority of US states require mandatory alcohol abuse assessment or treatment after a DUI conviction, but neither is required in four out of the five worst states for drunk driving deaths.⁴      
  • Among the five states with the most drunk driving deaths, the average minimum fine for the first DUI conviction is $300, compared to $524 among the five states with the fewest drunk driving deaths.⁵

Don’t start 2019 with a DUI, or worse. Make it your first resolution to get home from all the fun in one piece. If you plan to drink as part of your New Year’s celebration, be smart about it—use a designated driver or call a cab or ride-sharing service.

To help make the streets safer in the five most dangerous states, we’re giving away $10 Lyft rides to the first 100 people from those states who register for a safe, sober ride home on New Year’s Eve. To apply, go to our Safe Rides Home campaign page today.

Complete Rankings

Rank State
Deaths per Capita
#1 Wyoming 7.60
#2 South Carolina 6.23
#3 North Dakota 6.09
#4 New Mexico 5.75
#5 Alabama 5.50
#6 Montana 5.33
#7 Texas 5.19
#8 Mississippi 4.96
#9 Arkansas 4.66
#10 Louisiana 4.53
#11 Oklahoma 4.20
#12 Missouri 4.15
#13 Kentucky 4.06
#14 South Dakota 4.02
#15 North Carolina 4.02
#16 Florida 4.00
#17 West Virginia 3.97
#18 Arizona 3.96
#19 Maine 3.74
#20 Tennessee 3.74
#21 Georgia 3.51
#22 Kansas 3.50
#23 Idaho 3.49
#24 Nebraska 3.49
#25 Connecticut 3.34
#26 Delaware 3.33
#27 Oregon 3.31
#28 Indiana 3.30
#29 Wisconsin 3.28
#30 Rhode Island 3.21
#31 Colorado 3.16
#32 Michigan 3.12
#33 Maryland 3.07
#34 Alaska 2.97
#35 Nevada 2.97
#36 Hawaii 2.94
#37 Virginia 2.90
#38 Vermont 2.89
#39 Ohio 2.86
#40 California 2.83
#41 Iowa 2.80
#42 Illinois 2.73
#43 Pennsylvania 2.45
#44 Washington 2.40
#45 DC 2.31
#46 New Hampshire 2.01
#47 Massachusetts 1.75
#48 Utah 1.71
#49 Minnesota 1.52
#50 New York 1.49
#51 New Jersey 1.39


We used newly-released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which shows the number of impaired driving deaths in each state in 2017. Then we compared that report’s numbers for each state to 2017 Census population estimates to identify the safest and most dangerous roads on New Year’s Eve, according to the rate of impaired driving deaths.⁶


1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2017 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving
2. EconPapers, City University of New York Graduate Center, “New York City Drunk Driving after Uber”; SSRN, Fox School of Business Research Paper, “Show Me the Way to Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide”; SSRN, Western Carolina University, “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime”; American Journal of Epidemiology, “Uber and Metropolitan Fatalities in the United States”; MOLL Law Group, “Ride-Sharing Impact on Drunk Driving
3. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
4. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
5. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2017 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving”; US Census Bureau, “State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2017

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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  • G Lowe

    What also would have been good data to include in this is the number of vehicles per capita.

    • Scott T.

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll ask our data team to look into it.