Auto Insurance

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

There were 515 deaths due to DUIs in Florida in 2017, but not every city is equally at risk. Sarasota had the most DUI deaths per capita—12.2 per 100,000 people, which is nearly twice as many as the second most dangerous city, Lakeland. The good news for Floridians: Many cities had declining numbers of DUI deaths between 2012 and 2017. We found that DUI deaths were down 6% across the state, and some cities had a drop of 60% or more.

The Worst Large Cities in Florida for Fatal DUIs


1. Sarasota

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 death has increased substantially in Sarasota—there were 73% more DUI deaths in the city when compared to the previous three-year period.


2. Lakeland

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.


3. Jacksonville

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.


5. Pensacola

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.


6. Orlando

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 9 fatalities occurred during our study.

7. Tampa

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 No. 7, 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 the state.


8. Boca Raton

3.16 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Boca Raton is the most dangerous city in the Miami area and the 8th 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 tenth 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 No. 1 to No. 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.

Chart showing the 10 most dangerous cities for DUIs in Florida for each of three groups: small, medium and large.

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. 73% 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 No. 2 spot from 2012–2014, to No. 1 for 2015–2017.

Lakeland, which experienced the second-largest increase in DUI deaths statewide, was also the second-most dangerous city overall.

RankCity2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate% ChangeChange
1Sarasota7.0612.2073%5.14
2Lakeland2.406.50171%4.11
3Weston0.001.53N/A1.53
4Lauderhill1.002.49150%1.50
5Sanford0.621.24100%0.62

The 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%.

RankCity2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate% ChangeChange
1Fort Myers8.562.68-69%-5.89
2Largo5.580.43-92%-5.15
3Plantation4.320.39-91%-3.92
4Daytona Beach6.562.73-58%-3.82
5Port Orange4.160.59-86%-3.57

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.

Graph showing the correlation between the size of a county and its DUI fatality rate

Complete List of Counties in Florida with DUI Fatality Rankings

RankCityDUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
1Hamilton20.27
2Dixie18.27
3Baker14.75
4De Soto14.34
5Levy13.89
6Putnam13.45
7Gadsden12.22
8Walton11.51
9Lafayette11.27
10Madison10.40
11Nassau9.55
12Jefferson9.03
13Taylor8.86
14Union8.58
15Liberty7.97
16Columbia7.90
17Wakulla7.58
18Hendry6.81
19Martin6.61
20Suwannee6.42
21Monroe6.38
22Sarasota6.24
23Highlands6.07
24Flagler5.92
25Gilchrist5.90
26Duval5.67
27Polk5.65
28Seminole5.51
29Charlotte5.42
30Manatee5.37
31Indian River5.31
32Escambia5.15
33Marion5.03
34Okaloosa4.98
35Citrus4.72
36Hillsborough4.50
37Osceola4.47
38Volusia4.31
39Orange4.22
40Okeechobee4.17
41Lake4.15
42Clay4.02
43Pasco3.73
44Hardee3.61
45Lee3.56
46Jackson3.35
47Pinellas3.35
48Holmes3.35
49Brevard3.01
50Alachua2.96
51Bay2.96
52Franklin2.89
53Santa Rosa2.81
54Hernando2.70
55Glades2.59
56Bradford2.34
57Calhoun2.28
58St. Johns2.11
59St. Lucie1.97
60Leon1.81
61Sumter1.78
62Palm Beach1.74
63Washington1.34
64Collier1.24
65Broward1.05
66Miami-Dade0.96
67Gulf0.00

The Consequences of Drinking and Driving in Florida

Drinking 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, 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 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

First OffenseSecondThird (within 10 years)Fourth+ (any time)
Fine$500–$1,000$1,000–$2,000$2,000–$5,000$2,000–$5,000
JailUp to six monthsAt least 10 days, up to nine monthsAt least 30 days, up to five yearsAt least 30 days, up to five years
Ignition Interlock--One yearTwo yearsTwo years
Car Impound--30 days90 days90 days
OtherAt least 50 hours community service--Third-degree felonyThird-degree felony

Complete List of Cities in Florida with DUI Fatality Rankings

RankCityDUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
1Destin13.54
2Atlantic Beach13.17
3Sebring12.71
4Sarasota12.20
5Yulee8.70
6Gulfport8.31
7Palmetto7.93
8Cocoa7.78
9Tavares7.17
10Key West6.76
11Lakeland6.50
12Stuart6.41
13Key Largo6.39
14New Smyrna Beach5.94
15Fernandina Beach5.80
16Bartow5.78
17Jacksonville5.60
18Eustis5.39
19Palm Springs5.28
20St. Augustine5.14
21Casselberry5.08
22Plant City4.80
23Lady Lake4.79
24Lake Wales4.69
25St. Petersburg4.63
26Pensacola4.49
27Temple Terrace4.07
28Orlando4.06
29Seminole3.87
30Tampa3.77
31Panama City3.65
32Greenacres3.55
33Fort Walton Beach3.42
34Pinellas Park3.40
35Apopka3.21
36Boca Raton3.16
37Palatka3.16
38Orange City3.14
39Riviera Beach3.08
40Bonita Springs3.04
41Panama City Beach2.77
42Lake City2.77
43Daytona Beach2.73
44Fort Myers2.68
45Palm Coast2.66
46Hollywood2.60
47Zephyrhills2.51
48Lauderhill2.49
49Longwood2.44
50Lake Mary2.41
51Davie2.17
52Cape Coral2.16
53Winter Springs2.00
54West Palm Beach2.00
55Belle Glade1.91
56Dunedin1.89
57Ormond Beach1.75
58North Port1.74
59Haines City1.62
60Port St. Lucie1.62
61Gainesville1.61
62Venice1.61
63Fort Pierce1.60
64Crestview1.59
65Miami Gardens1.56
66Weston1.53
67Tallahassee1.47
68Immokalee1.38
69Coral Springs1.38
70Palm Beach Gardens1.38
71Bradenton1.35
72Deerfield Beach1.33
73Melbourne1.31
74Sanford1.24
75Deland1.23
76Hialeah1.19
77Ocala1.18
78Wellington1.18
79North Miami1.13
80Kissimmee1.12
81Delray Beach1.10
82Winter Haven0.98
83Royal Palm Beach0.98
84Palm Bay0.97
85Winter Garden0.96
86Lake Worth0.95
87St. Cloud0.95
88Aventura0.93
89Pembroke Pines0.86
90North Fort Myers0.85
91Oakland Park0.81
92Sunrise0.79
93Deltona0.78
94Doral0.73
95Pompano Beach0.67
96Clearwater0.62
97Jupiter0.60
98Port Orange0.59
99Homestead0.55
100Boynton Beach0.49
101Largo0.43
102Fort Lauderdale0.40
103Plantation0.39
104Miramar0.27
105Miami0.25
106Miami Beach0.00
106North Lauderdale0.00
106Ocoee0.00
106Miami Lakes0.00
106Clermont0.00
106Winter Park0.00
106Coconut Creek0.00
106Palmetto Bay0.00
106Sebastian0.00
106Titusville0.00
106Sunny Isles Beach0.00
106Hallandale Beach0.00
106Merritt Island0.00
106Safety Harbor0.00
106Vero Beach0.00
106Opa-Locka0.00
106Oldsmar0.00
106Auburndale0.00
106Niceville0.00
106North Palm Beach0.00
106Florida City0.00
106Lauderdale Lakes0.00
106Dania Beach0.00
106Tarpon Springs0.00
106New Port Richey0.00
106Edgewater0.00
106Lighthouse Point0.00
106Leesburg0.00
106Cocoa Beach0.00
106Lantana0.00

Methodology

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 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. Any municipality of less than 10,000 people was excluded from our study.

Matt Timmons

Matt is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who works on distilling the complex details of insurance into accessible advice. He previously created educational content at Grovo Learning and MarketSmiths Content Strategists. Matt's consumer-focused analysis of insurance has appeared in publications like CNBC, Yahoo Finance and the Miami Herald.

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.