There's hardly a worse thing you can do for yourself than catch a DUI. That goes without even mentioning the danger that drunk or impaired driving poses to public safety. Come on people, it's 2015. We have Uber and other ways to catch a ride home if you're out getting sauced but you really need to sleep in your own bed tonight.
But still, DUIs happen all the time, at a high cost to everyone involved. In 2013, the latest numbers available, the FBI estimates that there were 1,166,824 arrests for driving under the influence.
Today, a national study on DUI arrests was released by Project Know, a drug addiction resource center that does work on combating substance addiction and the societal issues that stem from it. In it, they sifted through data from federal agencies to figure out where you are most likely to get arrested for a DUI, per capita.
Using numbers from 2013, the study found the top five slots are reserved for very rural states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Arizona, Kentucky — states where Uber-like services might not be practical:
The rural states are trend is not consistent throughout, but generally it does seem like you are more likely to get arrested for a DUI in a state that's in the interior of the country, and not, say, in the densely-populated northeast, where using public mass transit is more common.
According to the numbers, drivers are over 6 times least likely to get one than even in Delaware, the state with the second least arrests. Compared to North Dakota in the top slot, Alabama drivers are over 174 times less likely to be arrested for the crime.
Deeper in the study, researchers went into the details of some major cities, to map out where the most people are getting arrested within city limits.
There's a ton of variables that determine where people get busted for a DUI within a city. The overall traffic and police presence of an area plays a factor. So does where the main bar strips are, how far those strips are from where people live, and also whether DUI checkpoints have been ruled unconstitutional in state courts.
Interestingly, in Oregon, the state requires police to gather data about the places where DUI offenders got drunk in the first place. If you look in the right places, you can find a list of the bars whose patrons have gotten the most DUIs in the state. Many of them are in those high-arrest areas of Portland.
In Chigago, most DUIs happen in the West and North Sides of the city, where the population density is highest.
Which is interesting, because it doesn't exactly align with where the majority of the traffic is — in downtown.
Traffic figures are only collected about every ten years, which explains why the traffic data if from 2006. Still, it highlights a traffic pattern that largely exists through today.
"More DUI arrests were made on 63rd Street between March 2012 and May 2013 than any other single location in the city," reads the Project Know report. The street is notably Chicago's longest east/ west street. "It also happens to be the only street home to two Chicago Police Department buildings: one for the 8th District and the other for the 7th. Perhaps this makes noticing and arresting drunk drivers easier."
We know that because of how the data is collected in the city. Most alcohol-related arrests between 2009 and 2014 centered around the Mission district, and most drug-related arrests happened in the Southern and Tenderloin districts.
To clarify, the green and orange hues in the dots represent areas where yellow and blue dots — alcohol and drug-related DUIs — overlap.
All things considered, there aren't that many DUIs in San Francisco. In 2013, there were only 429 reported in the city's Open Data, according to the report. That comes out to only 5.1 DUI arrests per 10,000 residents, way under the California average of 58.1 per 10,000 drivers, making it the sixth highest state.
Between September 2011 and October 2014, there were only 792 arrests made by city police. In a 2013 Boston Globe article, some suggested it could be a reflection of the walkable nature of the city. Others say that it reflects a lack of effort by the authorities.
“It can’t possibly be a priority given those statistics,” Ron Bersani, who has lobbied for stricter drunken-driving laws since his granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver, told the paper. “It’s skewed beyond belief.”
For comparison, Washington D.C., a fellow walkable city about the size of Boston, had over six times the amount of DUI arrests for a recent year, the report found.
“It does raise questions,” Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told the Boston Globe. “We really look to law enforcement to reduce drunk driving, and it could be they just don’t have a focus on keeping the roads safe.”
There are a lot of DUIs in Seattle. Washington state has some of the toughest laws against drinking and driving in the nation.
The downtown area is a notable hotspot, as well as the northern parts of the city.
Sobriety checkpoints are not allowed in Washington, so the high numbers seemingly reflect that busting people for driving under the influence is a high priority for the local police.
Speaking of high, our next city is Denver — where recreational marijuana has been legal since July, 2013.
Not that it makes that big of a difference to the data.. the city doesn't differentiate between the two, unlike San Francisco, above.
Regardless, early reporting suggests that not very many drivers are being arrested for driving while stoned. A CBS Denver report from last year calculated that there was "roughly one [driving under the influence of marijuana arrest] per week" since it became legal.
"In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes," writes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its most recent report. That averages out to one alcohol-related vehicle fatality every 52 minutes.
As for the economic impact of DUIs, the agency estimates that for that year, drunk driving accidents had a societal cost of $206.9 billion.
That Uber or that taxi doesn't sound very expensive now, does it?
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.