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Does Your State Have a Drunk-Driving Problem?

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CARS.COM — Over the past three decades, drunk-driving deaths have declined by nearly half, but drivers under the influence of alcohol still are a major problem in many areas. The overall decrease is largely thanks to all U.S. states having lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers to 0.08 from 0.10, as well as advancements in vehicle safety and improvements in public awareness about the dangers of alcohol and impaired driving. Still, drunk driving continues to account for countless accidents and nearly a third of all U.S. traffic fatalities, totaling 10,265 in 2015, a 3 percent increase from 2014.

Related: DUI Fatalities Continue Decades-Long Slide

The average national reduction in DUI deaths from 1984 to 2013 was about 45 percent. And while just shy of half of U.S. states in that time improved by 50 percent or more, most did not — and a few even got worse. How bad is your state when it comes to drinking and driving and drunk-driving accidents?

BackgroundChecks.org recently released a new study ranking all 50 states based on DUI fatalities and arrests, as well as the percentage of adult drivers who reported having too much to drink before driving, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Here are the top 10 states with the most drunk-driving crashes, DUIs and other problems involving drinking and driving:

10. Arkansas

9. Maine

8. Kentucky

7. New Mexico

6. Mississippi

5. South Carolina

4. Montana

3. South Dakota

2. North Dakota

1. Wyoming

And here are the top 10 states with the least drinking and driving problems:

10. Kansas

9. Washington

8. Indiana

7. Virginia

6. Rhode Island

5. Utah

4. New Jersey

3. Illinois

2. Massachusetts

1. New York

Unsurprisingly, the states with the lowest incidence of drinking and driving problems tended to be the more densely populated and urbanized ones where it’s easier for drivers who have had too much to drink to find convenient public transportation, a robust walking culture and an abundance of taxis and ride-hailing services. The average population density of the top 10 worst states for driving while under the influence of alcohol is about 49 people per square mile — compared with about 432 people per square mile in the 10 best states. In these sparsely populated areas, many crashes involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol occur because of the lack of alternative transportation options.

If you are going to drink alcohol, be smart and invite a sober driver who can get you home safely. As many U.S. cities continue celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day holiday through the coming weekend, watch the video below for some sobering statistics about the holiday, as well as advice for avoiding DUI and alcohol-related dangers. If you have been drinking, don’t risk a DUI arrest or being involved in an alcohol-related crash. Drunk drivers kill, and the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving can follow you for the rest of your life. 

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