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

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

Across the state of Texas, there were 17,434 car crashes that involved a drunken driver in 2016. However, some places were significantly more deadly than others. Out of cities with at least 50,000 residents, Midland had the most DUI fatalities per capita, with 41% more fatalities than in Houston and San Antonio.
Two cars crashed in accident with firetruck behind
Two cars crashed in accident with firetruck behind Source: Getty Images

The Worst Large Cities in Texas For Fatal DUIs

1. Midland

5.70 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Midland is the most dangerous city in Texas for DUI fatalities. From 2014 to 2016, 19 deaths resulted from crashes involving a driver whose blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. The high rate of DUI fatalities persists despite the fact that a portion of Midland is in Martin County, where the sale of alcohol is completely prohibited.

2. Odessa

5.34 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Though slightly less than nearby Midland, Odessa's DUI fatality rate is nearly twice the average for large cities in Texas. Odessa is famous for football, boasting one of the largest high school football stadiums in the state. Despite having a relatively small population, Odessa regularly is in the top dozen cities in Texas for total DUI-related fatalities.

3. Baytown

5.11 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The city of Baytown has the highest DUI fatality rate of any city in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area. Baytown is bordered on the north by Interstate 10, which ValuePenguin has ranked one of the five most dangerous roads in the U.S. This may contribute to the high DUI fatality rate.

4. Dallas

4.62 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The city of Dallas has the most DUI-related fatalities per capita of any of the major Texas cities with populations over 500,000. This city has long been known as a transportation hub; however, those who drive in Dallas should be aware that from 2014 to 2016 there were 166 deaths resulting from crashes involving drunken drivers.

5. Edinburg

4.32 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Located in the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexico-U.S. border, Edinburg is one the most southern cities in all of Texas. Despite being only a few miles away, Edinburg's rate of DUI-related fatalities per capita is more than five times greater than the neighboring city of McAllen.

6. Irving

4.32 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The Dallas suburb of Irving has one of the highest DUI-fatality rates of large cities in Texas. Irving is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including the ExxonMobil headquarters. In 2016, there were 14 DUI-related fatalities in Irving, twice as many as there were in Corpus Christ — a city that is 41% larger in terms of population.

7. Waco

4.27 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The central Texas city of Waco is located along Interstate 35 about halfway between Dallas and Austin, and it is the home of Baylor University. In 2016, Waco had more DUI-related fatalities than Arlington, a city nearly three times its size.

8. Houston

4.02 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

Houston is the largest city in Texas and regularly has the most DUI deaths. In 2016, there were 1,492 crashes involving a driver who was under the influence. About 6% of those crashes resulted in at least one fatality, which is more than twice the statewide rate of 2.8%.

9. San Antonio

3.99 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

San Antonio, the oldest municipality in Texas, is second to Houston in terms of population and has only slightly fewer DUIs per capita. In 2015, there were more than 2,000 car crashes involving drunken drivers in San Antonio, which was the most of any Texas city.

10. Bryan

3.94 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents

The city of Bryan is adjacent to College Station and Texas A&M University, which was the largest public university by enrollment in the 2017–18 academic year. Even though the two cities are directly adjacent, Bryan drivers are twice as likely as College Station drivers to be killed in a drunken-driving accident.

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

Above, we listed the 10 worst large cities in Texas for DUI fatalities, but our analysis sampled data from more than 900 different municipalities. We chose to separate these cities into three categories: large, midsized and small. Below, we include the rankings for each category, based on DUI fatality data from 2014 to 2016.

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

Though four of the midsized cities (with a population between 20,000 and 49,999) had more DUI fatalities per capita than any large city in Texas, on average these cities had fewer drunken driver-related deaths. Midsized cities in Texas had a rate of 2.29 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents compared to 2.56 for large cities. The suburbs of Houston contain some of the most dangerous medium-sized cities, with three ranking in the top 10 in the state: Galveston, Rosenberg and Texas City.

According to our analysis, small Texas cities were — on average — much safer than medium or large cities, with an average of 2.05 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents compared to 2.29 for medium cities and 2.56 for large cities. Additionally, 51 of 95 small cities had no DUI-related fatalities at all, for the years that we sampled data. However, there are some outliers, including the city of Forney. In 2016, this city ranked in the top 25 for the number of DUI-related fatalities in Texas despite its small population.

Large Texas Cities With the Biggest Increase in Fatal DUIs

The city of Baytown has had the worst shift of any large city in Texas in terms of DUI fatalities. It went from ranking 42nd from 2011 to 2013 to third in the state from 2014 to 2016 among large Texas cities. Recent additions to the top 10 most dangerous cities in Texas for DUI fatalities also include Bryan and Edinburg.

2011‒2013 DUI fatality rate
2014‒2016 DUI fatality rate
% Change

The Most Improved Large Cities in Texas For Fatal DUIs

The DUI-related fatality rate in large Texas cities increased from 2.34 per 100,000 residents to 2.56 per 100,000 residents between 2011 and 2016. However, the following five cities saw a decrease of 1.78 fatalities per 100,000 residents on average.

2011‒2013 DUI fatality rate
2014‒2016 DUI fatality rate
% Change
1New Braunfels5.202.89-44%-2.31
2San Angelo3.221.43-56%-1.79

The Consequences of Drinking and Driving in Texas

Texas drivers caught driving under the influence can face fines, license suspension and even jail time. Beyond the legal consequences drivers will face, their auto insurance costs will rise as well, as insurers will consider these drivers much riskier to insure. Below, we detail the ramifications of getting a DUI in Texas.

First offense: First-time DUI offenders can get a fine of up $2,000, spend from three days to six months in jail, and face a license suspension of up to a year. Additionally, drivers can be charged annual fees of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain their driver's licenses. For drivers to get their licenses reinstated, they must obtain SR-22 insurance, which certifies that an individual has the required amount of insurance.

Second offense: After the second DUI, a Texas driver can be fined up to $4,000, be jailed for one month to one year, and also have their license suspended for up to two years. The annual fee to retain their driver's license can either be $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years.

Third offense: Three-time offenders face fines of up to $10,000, between two and 10 years in prison, and loss of a driver's license for up to two years. The annual fee to retain a license is the same as it is for the second offense: $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 for three years.

Additionally, if any two offenses occur within a five-year period, then you will be required to install a special ignition switch in your vehicle that prevents you from driving while intoxicated.

Complete List of Texas Cities With DUI Fatality Rankings

DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents
4Red Oak9.29
5La Marque9.19
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We tallied the total number of fatalities caused by DUI-related crashes, as reported by the Texas Department of Transportation, 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 estimates for Texas cities. 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.