Drunk driving has an estimated economic cost of about $199 billion per year in the U.S., according to NerdWallet. 

Additionally, in 2012, drunk driving led to the deaths of 10,322 people. But the city you’re in has an impact on how likely you are to encounter a drunk driver on the road.  

A NerdWallet study, summarized in a post by John Kuo, compiled a list of the top-10 cities for fatal alcohol-related car crashes per-capita, using all motor vehicle crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and population data from the 2010 U.S. Census. NerdWallet also received quotes for eight driver profiles to determine auto-insurance rates before and after a DUI (see the study and methodology at the link above).

The study found that drivers who receive a DUI see an average 75.3% increase for insurance, but range of increases varies greatly by city. NerdWallet notes that while a San Bernardino, Calif. driver sees an average 135.06% increase, a driver in Omaha, Neb. seen an increase of just 3.76%

Additionally, NerdWallet says that out of the top-10 cities for fatal alcohol-related car crashes per-capita, six see relatively low increases after drivers receive DUIs.

See the top-10 cities on the following pages. 

10. Little Rock, Arkansas—Population: 193,691

Little Rock had 27 alcohol-related fatal crashes from 2010-2012. Factoring in population, the city had 0.1394 crashes per 1,000 residents. All told, Little Rock had almost twice as many alcohol-related fatal car crashes per-capita than the national average, according to NerdWallet. 

A Little Rock driver’s premium after a DUI jumps by about 50%, or about $616. The average driver there pays $1,241.23 for auto insurance per year.

9. Sacramento, California—Population: 467,467

Sacramento is the first of four California cities to appear in the top-10, enduring 66 fatal alcohol-related car crashes from 2010-2012, or about 0.1412 per 1,000 residents.

Drivers in the city pay about $1,042.58 on average for insurance, a bit under the national average, but after a DUI, a driver can expect his/her rate to skyrocket by about $1440.20, the highest dollar amount than any other city in the top-10. That’s an increase of over 138% for the average driver. 


8. Spokane, Washington—Population: 208,701

From 2010-2012, Spokane, the only Pacific-Northwest city to appear in the top-10, suffered 30 fatal alcohol-related car crashes. For perspective, NerdWallet notes that Tacoma, Washington, which has a similar population, had just 13. Spokane’s fatal alcohol-related crashes total 0.1437 per 1,000 residents.

Drivers in this city pay about $834.91 a year for auto insurance. After a DUI a driver can expect a 55.58% increase, or about $464.05 more. This is less than the national average of 75.3%, NerdWallet notes.


7. Fresno, California—Population: 495,777 

Fresno is the second of four California cities in the top-10, and is the largest city on the list. Its 80 alcohol-related fatal car accidents from 2010 to 2012 equals 0.1614 per 1,000 residents—more than twice as many per capita than the national average.

Drivers, who on average pay a reasonable $887.93 for auto insurance per year, can expect a hefty 137.87% increase, or $1,224.17, after a DUI.

6. Knoxville, Tennessee—Population: 179,973

Knoxville is just across the border from Huntsville, Alabama, which has nearly the same population. But from 2010 to 2012, Knoxville recorded 31 fatal alcohol-related crashes, while Huntsville suffered just 12. Knoxville’s total comes to 0.1722 per 1,000 residents, good for sixth on the list.

Drivers pay about $1,019.97 on average for auto insurance. After a DUI, that jumps by 52.16%, or about $532.01. NerdWallet says this increase is much smaller compared to most other cities.

5. Lubbock, Texas—Population: 229,428

Lubbock had 0.1743 fatal alcohol-related deaths from 2010 to 2012, or 40 in total.

Drivers pay $1,128.53 on average for auto insurance, and rates increase by 55.34% after a DUI, under the national average. The increase for the average driver totals $624.48.


4. Tulsa, Oklahoma—Population: 391,486

Tulsa had 74 fatal alcohol-related accidents from 2010 to 2012, matching Oklahoma City, which has almost 200,000 more residents. Tulsa suffered 0.1890 fatal alcohol-related crashes per 1,000 residents, compared to Oklahoma City’s 0.1273 (Oklahoma City ranked 17th on NerdWallet’s list).

Drivers in Tulsa see the lowest percentage increase after a DUI out of all the cities in the top-10. The average premium is $1,472.03, and after a DUI it increases by 42.34%, or by $623.33.


3. Riverside, California—Population: 306,128

Riverside had about three times the number of fatal alcohol-related crashes per capita compared to the national average from 2010 to 2012, NerdWallet says. The city suffered 74 crashes over that time, or 0.2417 per 1,000 residents. 

Drivers in Riverside pay $1,001.94 on average for auto insurance, and those who receive DUIs can expect a 140.16% increase, the highest percentage increase of any city in the top-10. The dollar increase comes to $1,404.31.


2. Mobile, Alabama—Population: 195,239

Mobile recorded 58 fatal alcohol-related crashes from 2010-2012, or 0.2971 per 1,000 residents, about four times the national average. NerdWallet says Augusta, Georgia, which has about the same number of people as Mobile, had just 17 fatal alcohol-related crashes in the same period. 

Drivers in Mobile pay $1,014.88 on average for auto insurance, and see a relatively low rate hike after a DUI—46.98%, or $476.75.

1. San Bernardino, California—Population: 210,624

The fourth California city on the list also has the dishonor of being first overall when it comes to the frequency of alcohol-related car crashes. San Bernardino suffered 94 such crashes from 2010-2012, or 0.4368 per 1,000 residents, far outpacing even second-ranked Mobile. The total compares to the national average of 0.0731 crashes per 1,000 residents.

Drivers in San Bernardino pay $949.51 on average for auto insurance, and that takes a significant 135.06% jump after a DUI, or an increase of $1,282.43. 

Next page: Cities with the fewest alcohol-related fatal car crashes.

Cities with the Fewest Alcohol-Related Fatal Car Crashes Per-Capita

While California placed four cities in the top-10 list, it also had three cities in the bottom-10 list, and they all tied for first for cities with the fewest alcohol-related fatal car crashes. The bottom 10 are:

 1.  Moreno Valley, Calif.

 1.  Glendale, Calif.

 1.  Santa Rosa, Calif.

 4.  Arlington, Va.

 5.  Aurora, Ill.

 6.  Lincoln, Neb.

 7.  New York, N.Y.

 8.  Hialeah, Fla.

 9.  St. Paul, Minn.

10.  Jersey City, N.J.