Auto Insurance

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

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

In 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), 206 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in New York state, but not every city, town, village and hamlet in the state is equally dangerous. Southampton was the most dangerous municipality overall, with 3.52 DUI-related deaths occurring per 100,000 people per year between 2015 and 2017 — 235% greater than the statewide average. Long Island was the most dangerous region, with five out of the top 10 most dangerous cities located on the island.
Emergency services at accident
Emergency services at accident Source: Getty Images

The worst large cities in New York for fatal DUIs

1. Southampton

3.52 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Southampton is the most dangerous municipality in New York for DUIs. Between 2015 and 2017, six deaths resulted from automobile crashes where the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit, making it the deadliest city on a per-capita basis. The popular vacation spot was also the deadliest large municipality in New York between 2012 and 2014, with 2.93 deaths per 100,000 residents.

2. Babylon

2.81 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Babylon had more than twice as many DUI deaths per capita as the average large city we surveyed, with 18 total fatalities from 2015 to 2017. The bedroom community of New York City had a slight increase in DUI deaths from 2012 — it experienced a 29% jump from the previous three years.

3. Schenectady

2.52 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Rounding out the top three deadliest cities for DUIs in New York is Schenectady with 2.81 deaths per 100,000 residents per year. It's the worst city outside of Long Island for DUI fatalities, outranking nearby Albany, Colonie and Troy. Schenectady also had one of the most substantial jumps in the entire state — DUI fatalities increased 400% over the last three years, when compared to the previous three-year period.

4. Islip

2.45 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Islip, on the south shore of Long Island, had 2.45 DUI deaths per 100,000 people per year between 2015 and 2017. The town is located along the Montauk Highway and the Robert Moses Causeway to Fire Island, so vacation travelers should be extra wary when making the trip. Islip also had 50% more deaths per capita than neighboring Brentwood, which had a comparatively smaller 1.65 DUI deaths per 100,00 people each year.

5. Brookhaven

2.4 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Brookhaven had 35 total DUI fatalities between 2015 and 2017, giving it the highest number in absolute terms of any city in the top 10. The town on the eastern end of Long Island also had the highest absolute number of deaths of any city or NYC borough statewide except Queens in New York City — an area with 4.6 times the population.

6. Albany

2.38 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Albany, the state capital of New York, had a 133% increase in DUI-related deaths since 2012. This was enough for it to jump up 13 spots on our list of the most dangerous cities for DUIs in New York — it was 19th between 2012 and 2014. Albany had 5.5% fewer DUI deaths per capita than nearby Schenectady, however.

7. Buffalo

2.17 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Buffalo had one of the worst increases among large cities in New York. The DUI death rate nearly tripled over the course of our study, with the average death rate jumping from 0.77 between 2012 and 2014 to 2.17 between 2015 and 2017. It also fared far worse than nearby Cheektowaga, which had a DUI death rate of 0.76.

8. Syracuse

2.07 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Syracuse, located in the Finger Lakes region and home of Syracuse University, had seven DUI crashes that led to nine total fatalities between 2015 and 2017. This marked a 29% increase in DUI deaths from the previous three years, during which seven people were killed. The city had a far higher rate than nearby Clay, which had no DUI deaths at all between 2015 and 2017.

9. White Plains

1.76 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

White Plains, the most deadly municipality in Westchester County for DUIs, had an average of 1.76 DUI deaths per 100,000 people each year. This put it at 68% more DUI fatalities than the state average and 47% more than the average among large cities. Though White Plains didn't have any DUI deaths in between 2012 and 2015, three separate incidents between 2016 and 2017 made it the eighth most dangerous city for DUIs.

10. Brentwood

1.65 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Brentwood had three DUI fatalities between 2015 and 2017, making it the 10th most dangerous among large cities. Brentwood was the only city in the top 10 to get safer — it had 40% fewer DUI deaths when compared to 2012 to 2014.

Breakdown of the most dangerous cities in New York for DUIs by population

Above, we listed the 10 worst large cities in New York state for fatalities, but in our analysis we looked at more than 480 cities across the state. To make for more direct comparison, we split the cities into three groups: large, midsize and small. Below, take a look at the rankings for each size category based on DUI fatality data from 2015 to 2017.

Table showing the most dangerous cities in NY state for DUIs, separated into small, medium, and large.

Notably missing from the list of most dangerous cities was New York City. While the five boroughs claimed several of the highest numbers of DUI deaths in absolute terms, these deaths were more than offset by the high population of NYC. Even when evaluated individually, all five boroughs were below average for cities in New York state. Queens, the deadliest borough, had just 0.76 deaths per 100,000 people per year — well below the statewide average of 1.05.

Large cities in New York with the biggest increases in fatal DUIs

Schenectady had the most severe increase in its DUI fatality rate among any large city in New York — it went up 400% over the course of our study. Schenectady tied with White Plains for the biggest jumps in ranking — both moved up 23 spots among the deadliest cities.

2012‒2014 DUI fatality rate
2015‒2017 DUI fatality rate
% Change
2White Plains01.76N/A1.76

The most improved large cities in New York for fatal DUIs

The DUI fatality rate improved the most in Hamburg, where the total number of deaths resulting from a DUI decreased by 80% over the course of our study. Meanwhile, Clay had the biggest drop to zero — there were two DUI deaths in the city between 2012 and 2014, and none between 2015 and 2017.

2012–2014 DUI fatality rate
2015–2017 DUI fatality rate
% Change

The consequences of drinking and driving in New York

Driving under the influence in New York state comes with serious penalties. Even your first DWI — where your blood alcohol level, or BAC, is 0.08% or higher — will result in a fine of at least $500 and losing your license for six months. Furthermore, DWI punishments increase in New York for repeat offenses. For example, a second DWI has a minimum fine of $1,000, and you'll lose your license for a year.

You will also have to purchase SR-22 insurance, a special certificate for high-risk drivers that allows the state to verify whether or not you have coverage. Even after you are no longer required to have an SR-22, your DUI will affect your auto insurance rates for three to five years.

That said, you may be able to reduce that financial impact by purchasing coverage from one of the cheapest New York car insurance companies.

Legal consequences of a DUI in New York

Offense #
Maximum jail time
Driver license penalty
First offense$500–$1,0001 yearDWI - Revoked for at least six months DWAI-drugs - Suspended for at least six months
Second offense in 10 years$1,000–$5,0004 yearsRevoked for at least one year
Third offense in 10 years$2,000–$10,0007 yearsRevoked for at least one year

In New York state, you can get hit with a fine even if you're under the .08 BAC limit. Under New York's no tolerance law for young drivers, drivers under 21 can have their license revoked if their BAC is just 0.02%. And any driver whose BAC is between 0.05%–0.07% and whose driving is impaired can receive a fine.

Complete list of cities in New York with DUI fatality rankings

DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
5New Windsor6.60
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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 New York. We did not distinguish between different types of municipality — we looked at cities, towns, villages, hamlets and census-designated places across the state.

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.

In the state of New York, many municipalities are located within others, such as a village inside a town, often with the same name. We counted a DUI death as having occurred in the smallest jurisdiction applicable to its location. FARS data did not indicate what level of municipality a particular name referred to, so in cases where we encountered multiple municipalities with the same name, we used population data for the largest jurisdiction.