Worst large cities in Florida for fatal DUIs
12.20 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Sarasota is the most dangerous city in Florida for DUI deaths. It had 12.2 deaths per 100,000 residents per year over the last three years, making it nearly twice as deadly on a per-resident basis as the second-most-dangerous city, Lakeland. The danger of being killed in a DUI-related accident has increased substantially in Sarasota. There were 73% more DUI deaths in the city when compared to the previous three-year period.
6.50 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
The second-most-dangerous city for DUIs in Florida is Lakeland. While Lakeland and the top-ranked city, Sarasota, each had 19 DUI fatalities from 2015 to 2017, Lakeland's larger population meant that its per-capita death rate was much lower. Lakeland also had the highest percentage increase in DUI deaths in the entire state. The death rate increased 171% between the three-year period ending in 2017 and the previous three-year period.
5.60 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Jacksonville, Florida's most populous city, had the highest absolute number of DUI deaths within its borders — 138 over the last three years. That puts it 191% over the average among large cities. It was also the only city in northeastern Florida to be among the top 10 most dangerous cities for DUI deaths — nearby Gainesville is 71% safer. Route 1 was the most dangerous road in Jacksonville, with 15 total fatalities on the major highway between 2015 and 2017.
4. St. Petersburg
4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
St. Petersburg was the most dangerous city in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area for DUI deaths, with 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. St. Petersburg was 141% more dangerous than the average across the large Florida cities we surveyed. The number of people killed in DUI crashes has increased slightly: between 2012 and 2014, the city had a death rate of 4.36.
4.49 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Pensacola, with 4.49 deaths per 100,000 residents per year, was the fifth-most-dangerous city between 2015 and 2017. Despite being very close in population to Sarasota, the most dangerous city in Florida, around one third as many people were killed in Pensacola. Pensacola also had a slight drop in DUI deaths in recent years. Between 2012 and 2014, Florida's westernmost city had a DUI death rate of 5.14 per 100,000 residents.
4.06 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Orlando averaged an annual 4.06 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents from 2015 to 2017, making it the sixth-most dangerous place for DUIs in Florida during this time period. The city had a substantial jump over the course of our study. It was ranked 15th-most deadly between 2012 and 2014. The deadliest road in the city is I-4, where nine fatalities occurred during our study.
3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
While Tampa is the largest city in the Tampa Bay area, it's not the most dangerous for DUIs. Its DUI fatality rate of 3.77 put it at number seven, three spots behind neighboring St. Petersburg. It also had a moderate decrease in deaths over the course of our study. Between 2012 and 2014, there were 48 DUI deaths in Tampa; from 2015 and 2017, that number fell to 38. Tampa was also one of the most expensive cities to buy car insurance in Florida.
8. Boca Raton
3.16 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Boca Raton is the most dangerous city in the Miami area and the eighth most deadly city for DUIs statewide. It had 64% more DUI deaths than the average large city statewide. Miami itself was one of the safest cities for DUIs on a per-capita basis: it was the third-safest city in the state. It's not all bad news for Boca Raton, though. Its DUI rate decreased by 20% over the time periods we studied.
9. Daytona Beach
2.73 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
Daytona Beach had 2.73 deaths per 100,000 residents between 2015 and 2017, making it the ninth-most-dangerous city overall. It's 42% deadlier than the average large city in the Sunshine State. Daytona drivers should be extra careful while on US-92: three of the 17 crashes that occurred over the course of our study happened there, making it the most dangerous road in the city.
10. Fort Myers
2.68 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents
The 10th-most-dangerous city for DUI deaths in Florida is Fort Myers, with a DUI death rate of 2.68 per 100,000 residents in the three-year period between 2015 and 2017. However, Fort Myers is also among the most improved cities in the state, as DUI deaths went down 69% over the course of our study. This meant it dropped nine spots in our ranking from the previous three years: from number one to number 10.
Breakdown of the most dangerous cities in Florida for DUIs by population
We looked at the largest cities with high DUI fatality rates above, but we looked at 180 cities of all sizes across the state of Florida. See our breakdown of the most dangerous small, medium and large cities statewide, based on data we collected from the years 2015 to 2017.
Large cities in Florida with the biggest increase in fatal DUIs
The city of Sarasota experienced the biggest jump in DUI deaths over the course of our study. Seventy-three percent more people were killed in Sarasota between 2015 and 2017 compared to the previous three-year period. This was enough to move it up from the number two spot from 2012 to 2014, to number one for 2015 to 2017.
Lakeland, which experienced the second-largest increase in DUI deaths statewide, was also the second-most-dangerous city overall.
2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate
2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate
Most improved large cities in Florida for fatal DUIs
Many cities did see an improvement in DUI death rates. Most notable is Fort Myers, where the risk of being killed in a DUI crash fell 69% over the course of our study. That brought it down nine spots on our ranking, from first to 10th. That's far more significant than the statewide decrease of just 6%.
2012-2014 DUI fatality rate
2015-2017 DUI fatality rate
DUI deaths are far more common in smaller Florida counties
On a county level, we found that DUI deaths are far more common in Florida counties with smaller populations. A resident of the most dangerous county, Hamilton County (population 14,799) is 21 times more likely to be killed in a DUI crash than a resident of Miami-Dade County (population 2,496,435). All 10 of the most dangerous counties had populations under 75,000, and the top four all had populations of 35,000 or less.
Complete list of counties in Florida with DUI fatality rankings
DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
Consequences of drinking and driving in Florida
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a crime in Florida and comes with harsh penalties — even the first time you're caught. And the punishment only gets worse for subsequent crashes. A DUI in Florida is defined as driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. And if you're under 21 years old, a BAC over 0.02% qualifies you for a DUI.
For a first-time DUI conviction, Florida drivers are likely to face a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a possible jail sentence of up to six months. You'll also be required to perform at least 50 hours of community service.
For offenders with at least one previous DUI, the possible fine and jail time both increase substantially. You'll serve at least 10 days behind bars and be required to install an ignition interlock device that prevents you from starting your car if you have any alcohol in your system at all. And once your license is reinstated, you'll likely have to purchase SR-22 insurance, which will cause your car insurance rates to increase significantly. However, if you've gotten a DUI and want to minimize what you spend on car insurance, you may be able to find a low price by going with one of Florida's cheapest auto insurance companies.
These penalties are only for being caught driving while intoxicated. You'll likely face additional penalties if you are found guilty of related offenses, such as reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter.
DUI penalties in Florida
Third (within 10 years)
Fourth+ (any time)
|Jail||Up to six months||At least 10 days, up to nine months||At least 30 days, up to five years||At least 30 days, up to five years|
|Ignition interlock||--||One year||Two years||Two years|
|Car impound||--||30 days||90 days||90 days|
|Other||At least 50 hours community service||--||Third-degree felony||Third-degree felony|
Complete list of cities in Florida with DUI fatality rankings
DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
We tallied the total number of fatalities caused by DUI-related crashes as reported by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) over the three most recent years that data is available. We then calculated the average DUI fatalities per year and compared this figure to U.S. Census Bureau population data for cities in Florida. We considered large cities to have populations of over 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 residents. Any municipality of less than 10,000 people was excluded from our study.