Auto Insurance

Where Are You Most Likely to Be in a Fatal DUI in California?

Many southern California cities — including Hesperia, Hemet, San Bernardino, Pomona and Riverside — have DUI fatality rates more than double the statewide average.

The Worst Large Cities in California For Fatal DUIs


1. Hesperia

5.18 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The San Bernardino County city of Hesperia ranks as the worst large city in California for fatal DUIs. At 5.18 deaths per 100,000 residents, Hesperia's DUI fatality rate is 234% greater than the statewide average for similarly sized cities we surveyed. Interstate 15, a popular thoroughfare between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, runs through this area—which is a potential contributing factor to the high number of DUI-related deaths in this area.


2. Hemet

5.09 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

In 2017, there were six DUI-related fatalities in Hemet, which is more than there were in Oakland, a city with nearly five times as many residents. In that same year, nearby San Jacinto had zero fatalities resulting from DUIs.


3. Bakersfield

4.60 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

From 2015 to 2017, there were 48 DUI-related fatalities in Bakersfield—the fifth most of any city in California during that time, despite it having only the ninth-highest population. Bakersfield's DUI fatality rate is nearly two times that of the California average for the large cities we surveyed.


4. San Bernardino

4.45 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The city of San Bernardino had 28 DUI-related fatalities from 2015 to 2017. This city is the home of California State University San Bernardino, which we recently ranked as the fifth-worst large university in the nation for student car owners. There's a high rate of vehicle thefts and expensive insurance costs in the area.


5. Paramount

4.31 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

In Paramount, a city near Los Angeles and to the east of Compton, there were five DUI-related fatalities in 2016. That's more than in Glendale, a city with nearly four times the population. Paramount saw a 40% increase in DUI deaths per capita in the past three years compared to the previous period.


6. Lancaster

4.04 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Located north of Los Angeles, Lancaster had a DUI fatality rate 161% greater than the statewide average. Additionally, Lancaster's DUI fatality rate is more than 1.5 times that of nearby Palmdale—at 4.04 DUI related fatalities per 100,000 residents per year compared to 1.53 in Palmdale.


7. Sacramento

3.79 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Sacramento, the capital of California, is the only major California city (with around 500,000 residents) to rank as one of the 10 worst in the state for DUI-related fatalities. From 2015 to 2017, there were 53 DUI-related fatalities in Sacramento.


8. Pittsburg

3.69 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Pittsburg ranks as the worst large city in the Bay Area for DUI-related deaths, with a fatality rate 138% greater than the California average for the large cities we reviewed. In 2016, drunken driving crashes resulted in four deaths in Pittsburg—one more than in San Francisco that year.


9. Pomona

3.58 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Located between Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, the city of Pomona is the home of California State Polytechnic University. Despite the high rate of DUI-related fatalities in this city, insurance rates in Pomona are actually among the cheapest in California.


10. Riverside

3.40 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The Inland Empire city of Riverside ranked as one of the worst large cities in California for DUI-related fatalities. In 2016, 12 deaths resulted from drunken driving crashes in Riverside—the same number of fatalities as there were in Sacramento, a city that has 50% more people.

Breakdown of the Most Dangerous Cities in California for DUIs by City Size

Above, we listed the 10 worst large cities in California for DUI-related fatalities. However, our analysis included data from more than 300 municipalities. For the sake of making accurate comparisons, we separated cities into three categories: large, midsized and small. Below, we include the rankings for each size category using crash data from 2015 to 2017.

A Graphic Of The Most Dangerous Cities In California For DUI Fatalities Grouped by Size

Of the cities we included in our study, the three cities with the highest DUI fatality rates—Barstow, Desert Hot Springs and San Pablo—all had between 20,000 and 49,999 residents. In recent years, across these cities there was an average of 10.89 DUI-related fatalities per 100,000 residents per year. This is over 500% greater than what we found to be the statewide average of 1.77 DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Large California Cities With the Biggest Increase in Fatal DUIs

Vista, California—located about 40 miles north of San Diego—had the biggest net increase in its DUI fatality rate of any large city in California. It went from zero DUI-related fatalities in 2012 to 2014 to registering nine of them from 2015 to 2017—which was enough to put it as the 14th-worst large city for DUI fatalities in California for that period.

Rank

City2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate% ChangeDifference
1Vista0.003.20NA3.20
2Hemet2.125.09140%2.97
3Delano0.002.51NA2.51
4Murrieta0.322.58700%2.26
5Pittsburg1.583.69133%2.11

The Most Improved Large Cities in California For Fatal DUIs

Hesperia, which ranked as the worst large city in California for DUI-related deaths, had the third largest decrease in DUI fatalities in recent years—going from averaging 8.50 drunken driving deaths per 100,000 residents per year from 2012 to 2014 to 5.18 deaths per 100,000 residents in the following period.

Rank

City2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate% ChangeDifference
1Colton7.033.20-55%-3.83
2Merced3.800.42-0.89%-3.38
3Hesperia8.505.18-0.39%-3.33
4Burbank3.230.00-100%-3.23
5Diamond Bar4.201.20-0.71%-3.00

The Consequences of Drinking and Driving in California

In California, most individuals are charged with a DUI if they're caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. However, commercial drivers and people under the age of 21 are subject to stricter rules—requiring only a 0.04% BAC or 0.01% BAC, respectively, for a DUI conviction. Below, we list the typical ramifications for being convicted of a DUI in California. In addition to the consequences listed, those convicted of a DUI may have to complete a mandatory drunken driver education program.

First offense: For their first DUI conviction, California drivers face license suspension for four months and fines from $390 to $1,000. Additional penalties may be assessed depending on the circumstances of the DUI. First-time offenders could also be ordered to serve jail time from two days up to six months.

Second offense: Second-time DUI offenders in California will have their licenses suspended for two years and will be fined up to $1,000 (as well as any penalties assessed). These drivers may also be ordered to serve from three days to one year in jail.

Third offense: A third DUI conviction in California can result in a jail sentence of between 120 days and one year—in addition to a three-year license suspension and fines up to $1,000.

An additional consequence of getting a DUI, you'll have to get SR-22 insurance and pay a $125 reissue fee (or a $100 fee if you were under age 21) to get your driving privileges reinstated. Furthermore, DUI charges in California stay on your driving record for 10 years, meaning you will pay increased insurance rates for that time. Also, DUIs that result in the injury or death to other persons could be treated as felonies. These will likely result in harsher penalties—such as extended jail time and fines of more than $10,000.

Complete List of California Cities With DUI Fatality Rankings

RankCityDUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
1Barstow13.25
2Desert Hot Springs10.28
3San Pablo9.15
4Los Alamitos8.73
5Solana Beach7.77
6Lathrop7.40
7Palm Springs6.73
8Shasta Lake6.56
9Wildomar6.22
10Hesperia5.18
11Hemet5.09
12Norco4.93
13Patterson4.90
14Blythe4.80
15California City4.72
16Bakersfield4.60
17San Bernardino4.45
18Paramount4.31
19Lancaster4.04
20Rancho Mirage3.87
21Arcata3.87
22Sacramento3.79
23Pittsburg3.69
24Eureka3.68
25Pomona3.58
26Morgan Hill3.52
27Stanton3.49
28Palm Desert3.44
29Riverside3.40
30Los Gatos3.40
31Cerritos3.40
32Banning3.38
33Apple Valley3.38
34Tulare3.37
35Stockton3.31
36Agoura Hills3.28
37Coachella3.28
38Yucca Valley3.22
39Vista3.20
40Colton3.20
41Oceanside3.19
42Upland3.16
43South Lake Tahoe3.11
44Chico3.09
45Mendota3.03
46Arcadia2.96
47Half Moon Bay2.94
48Riverbank2.94
49Antioch2.93
50Perris2.92
51West Hollywood2.91
52San Juan Capistrano2.89
53Lynwood2.87
54National City2.85
55Corona2.84
56Bell2.82
57Seal Beach2.76
58West Sacramento2.74
59Concord2.73
60Lake Los Angeles2.70
61Pacifica2.69
62La Quinta2.67
63Modesto2.65
64Santa Clarita2.65
65Indio2.63
66Commerce2.60
67Victorville2.59
68Murrieta2.58
69Lake Elsinore2.57
70Culver City2.57
71Livingston2.55
72Hayward2.54
73Grove Beach2.53
74Delano2.51
75Livermore2.47
76Inglewood2.43
77Ridgecrest2.41
78Santa Ana2.36
79Fresno2.36
80Rialto2.35
81San Carlos2.35
82Lincoln2.34
83Tehachapi2.31
84Huntington Park2.29
85Huntington Beach2.28
86San Jacinto2.26
87Paso Robles2.24
88Goleta2.23
89Fillmore2.22
90Fairfield2.22
91Fontana2.21
92San Diego2.17
93Lodi2.15
94Visalia2.14
95South San Francisco2.10
96Lakewood2.08
97Moraga2.08
98Walnut Creek2.08
99Yorba Linda2.08
100Moreno Valley2.07
101Truckee2.06
102Santa Fe Springs2.05
103Chula Vista2.05
104Oakland2.05
105Ontario2.03
106San Jose2.01
107Citrus Heights2.00
108San Dimas2.00
109San Marcos1.99
110Manteca1.99
111Shafter1.96
112Newport Beach1.96
113Arroyo Grande1.93
114Manhattan Beach1.90
115Orinda1.89
116Temple City1.87
117Martinez1.86
118Costa Mesa1.82
119Dixon1.82
120Pinole1.81
121Beaumont1.81
122Albany1.80
123Santa Rosa1.79
124Napa1.73
125Los Angeles1.73
126Vallejo1.73
127American Canyon1.71
128Orange1.71
129Roseville1.68
130Santa Cruz1.67
131South El Monte1.66
132Anaheim1.59
133San Clemente1.57
134West Covina1.57
135Irvine1.57
136Newark1.57
137El Centro1.57
138Dinuba1.55
139Rancho Cordova1.54
140Palmdale1.53
141Downey1.49
142Redding1.48
143San Luis Obispo1.48
144Laguna Beach1.47
145Turlock1.46
146Pasadena1.46
147Redlands1.45
148Selma1.44
149Rancho Cucamonga1.41
150San Fernando1.41
151Galt1.41
152Poway1.39
153Clovis1.39
154Compton1.38
155Gilroy1.37
156Mountain View1.35
157Corcoran1.34
158Chino Hills1.34
159Temecula1.33
160Twentynine Palms1.33
161Lemon Grove1.32
162Bellflower1.31
163Wasco1.30
164Cathedral City1.30
165Long Beach1.30
166Menifee1.29
167Richmond1.29
168Imperial Beach1.27
169Windsor1.24
170Benicia1.23
171Porterville1.23
172Maywood1.22
173Diamond Bar1.20
174Sunnyvale1.19
175Hawthorne1.19
176Suisun City1.19
177Atwater1.18
178Atascadero1.18
179San Leandro1.18
180El Monte1.18
181Petaluma1.15
182Walnut1.14
183Gardena1.13
184Santa Barbara1.13
185La Habra1.11
186Montebello1.07
187South Gate1.06
188Pico-Rivera1.06
189Thousand Oaks1.05
190Adelanto1.05
191San Mateo1.03
192Seaside1.01
193Dana Point1.00
194Redondo Beach1.00
195Beverly Hills0.98
196Garden Grove0.98
197Moorpark0.97
198Norwalk0.95
199Ventura0.94
200Fremont0.93
201Los Banos0.93
202Escondido0.93
203Montclair0.91
204Alameda0.90
205Salinas0.89
206Tustin0.88
207Glendale0.87
208Calexico0.86
209Santa Clara0.86
210Campbell0.85
211Buena Park0.83
212Rohnert Park0.81
213Simi Valley0.80
214Tracy0.80
215Rancho Palos Verdes0.80
216Bell Gardens0.79
217Whittier0.78
218Westminster0.74
219Fullerton0.74
220Ceres0.73
221Vacaville0.72
222Azusa0.72
223El Cajon0.67
224Glendora0.67
225Daly City0.66
226Yucaipa0.65
227Highland0.63
228Santee0.62
229Rosemead0.62
230Hanford0.62
231Woodland0.60
232Rocklin0.59
233San Rafael0.58
234Cupertino0.57
235Encinitas0.56
236Madera0.54
237Laguna Niguel0.53
238Palo Alto0.52
239Camarillo0.51
240Milpitas0.50
241Union City0.48
242Pleasanton0.47
243San Ramon0.46
244Folsom0.46
245Torrance0.46
246Baldwin Park0.44
247Elk Grove0.44
248Chino0.43
249Merced0.42
250Santa Monica0.37
251Carson0.36
252Santa Maria0.33
253Carlsbad0.32
254San Francisco0.25
255Ukiah0.00
255Malibu0.00
255Emeryville0.00
255Canyon Lake0.00
255Carpinteria0.00
255Oakdale0.00
255Parlier0.00
255Avenal0.00
255La Palma0.00
255Brea0.00
255Sanger0.00
255Claremont0.00
255Burbank0.00
255Placerville0.00
255Farmersville0.00
255Port Hueneme0.00
255Lindsay0.00
255Grand Terrace0.00
255Auburn0.00
255Ripon0.00
255Alamo0.00
255Santa Paula0.00
255Monterey Park0.00
255Artesia0.00
255Placentia0.00
255Redwood City0.00
255Arvin0.00
255San Gabriel0.00
255Lomita0.00
255El Cerrito0.00
255Lafayette0.00
255Lemoore0.00
255Brawley0.00
255Berkeley0.00
255Burlingame0.00
255Los Altos0.00
255La Verne0.00
255Mission Viejo0.00
255Lawndale0.00
255Davis0.00
255Oxnard0.00
255Hollister0.00
255La Puente0.00
255San Bruno0.00
255Alhambra0.00
255Cypress0.00
255Watsonville0.00
255Fountain Valley0.00
255La Mesa0.00
255Yuba City0.00

Methodology

We tallied the total number of fatalities caused by DUI-related crashes in cities that logged at least one fatal DUI from 2012-2017, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System for California. We then calculated the average DUI-related fatalities per year and compared this figure to U.S. Census data for California cities. We considered large cities to have populations of more than 50,000 residents, medium cities to have populations of 20,000 to 49,999 residents, and small cities to have populations of 10,000 to 19,999.

Bailey Peterson

Bailey is a Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, covering insurance. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science. Bailey's analysis has been featured by CNBC, the Houston Chronicle and the National Transportation Bureau Safety Board.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.