The DUI Capital of the USA

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Can we all agree it is the lowest scum of human society who gets behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, whether leaving a five-star restaurant serving fine wine, or a beer pong party at the local frat house?

Drunk drivers are the ultimate narcissists, responsible for horribly maiming and killing innocents, not to mention ruining their own lives, those of their victims, and the families of both. So how do we protect ourselves from them?

One way is to stay out of the cities where we’re most likely to encounter them. came up with a list that ranks large cities by DUI busts, based on analysis of insurance applications for 320,000 people in the U.S. Here are a few areas of the country where you may want to be especially alert for slow-moving weavers:

California is for Drunkards

Beautiful, sunny San Diego has the most DUI drivers per capita than any other city in the U.S., followed closely by San Jose. In fact, California takes four of the top 10 spots, with Los Angeles and San Francisco coming in at numbers seven and eight, respectively. What the heck, California? We all know they grow some great wine grapes there, but four out of the top ten for the whole country? Apparently these days “California dreaming” includes careening up and down the golden coast, liquored up like a 50s housewife.

Actually, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. According to the analysis, the reason San Diego and San Jose in particular have such a stunningly high number of DUI busts is because they also have an exceptionally strong drunk driving task force, and the police there actively hunt down violators. In San Diego, a team of six officers, specially trained to spot the subtle signs of drunk driving, spend 40 hours a week making DUI arrests, through both checkpoints and “saturation patrols.” Hopefully, this means most intoxicated drivers there are being caught.

Those Darned Kids!

Another reason California ranks so high is because of the large number of colleges located there. This is especially true of the second drunkest city, San Jose, which is home to dozens of colleges and technical schools, and has nightlife that attracts kids from farther south.

The fact is, people under the age of 25 are not overwhelmingly known for maturity, impulse-control, or thoughtful choice making. College students are the highest age group for drunk driving, and that fact, combined with San Jose’s aggressive policing of the problem, is mostly what makes the numbers there so high.

Other Cities to Avoid

Charlotte, North Carolina, ranked third on the list of drunk driving cities, followed by Phoenix, Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis. Texas had five spots in the top 20, with Austin at 9, and San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Ft. Worth holding spots 11 through 14. We blame all that line dancing and bourbon for Texas.

Jacksonville, Florida came in tenth. None of these seem entirely surprising, given the college factor.

Transportation Challenges

Besides being areas with a lot of crazy kids and a lot of cops determined to bust them, another factor in why certain cities have higher-than-average DUI rates is public transportation. When you can party all night with subways, buses, and cabs within reach of everything you need, it’s easy to avoid driving.

Most of the places in the top ten have vast stretches of space and relatively little in the way of public transportation, especially at night when people are more likely to be drinking heavily. Among students, who tend to think nothing bad will ever happen to them, nobody wants to be the designated driver.

Staying Safe

So what does this information tell us, exactly? First of all, supporting special law enforcement programs designed to catch drunk drivers is obviously worthwhile. Imagine how many car-wielding partiers aren’t getting caught in communities where the cops don’t have enough funding to actively look for them?

Secondly, supporting public transportation is a good thing, not only for environmental and convenience reasons, but also to keep the intoxicated out of their cars where they are less likely to hurt people.

Finally, watch yourself around colleges and universities. The numbers support a strong link between youth and intoxicated driving, so educating that particular demographic may be a way to improve road safety for all of us.