The Deadliest Cities for Drunk Driving on Saint Patrick's Day

The Deadliest Cities for Drunk Driving on Saint Patrick's Day

For many, Saint Patrick's Day is a holiday that is intrinsically linked to the consumption of alcohol, with green beer and Irish whiskey being the drinks of choice for many. The darker side of Saint Patrick's Day is that from 2008 to 2017, 360 deaths have resulted from drunk driving accidents that occured on the holiday. Furthermore, this year's festivities could be especially dangerous as March 17 falls on a weekend—which our research shows correlates to nearly twice as many DUI deaths compared to when it has falls on a weekday.

Our study revealed that some areas tended to be more dangerous than others, with the five worst cities having an average annual Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate more than 10 times greater than the national average.

The Worst Large Cities for Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatalities

1. Carlsbad, California

1.90 annual DUI deaths per 1,000,000 residents

Located on the coast of California south of Los Angeles, the city of Carlsbad was the deadliest large city in our study for Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths from 2008 to 2017. Despite having less than 10% of the population Carlsbad had the same number of Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatalities during the past 10 years, for which we have data, as nearby San Diego. Carlsbad's 1.90 Saint Patrick's Day DUI death rate was about 1,500% greater than the California average of 0.12.

Chart comparing Carlsbad's Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rate to the California state average and the national average.

2. Hialeah, Florida

1.78 annual DUI deaths per 1,000,000 residents

Located in the greater Miami metropolitan area, Hialeah was the deadliest city in Florida for Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatalities. There were four deaths attributed to drunk driving crashes in Hialeah during the 10-year period we considered. This is more than there were in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville combined, which all saw a single Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality over this span.

Chart comparing Hialeah's Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rate to the Florida state average and the national average.

3. Fayetteville, North Carolina

1.00 annual DUI deaths per 1,000,000 residents

Fayetteville, North Carolina, ranked as the deadliest large city for DUIs on Saint Patrick's Day in the entire country. Despite accounting for only 2% of the state’s population, Fayetteville was the location of one in every seven Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths that occurred during the past 10 years, for which we have data. This city's annual fatality rate of 1.00 deaths per 1,000,000 residents is more than 8.5 times the national average of 0.12.

Chart comparing Fayetteville's Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rate to the North Carolina state average and the national average.

4. Modesto, California

0.99 annual DUI deaths per 1,000,000 residents

Modesto ranks as the fourth most dangerous city to drive in on March 17, when you consider its high Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate. This is the case despite the fact that it is located in California, which had a Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate on par with the national average. Modesto fared much worse than the nearby city of Sacramento, where there were no DUI deaths that occurred on Saint Patrick's Day in the past 10 years, for which we have data.

Chart comparing Modesto's Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rate to the California state average and the national average.

5. South Bend, Indiana

0.99 annual DUI deaths per 1,000,000 residents

South Bend, famous for being adjacent to Notre Dame University, typically hosts a number of festivities for Saint Patrick's Day, including a parade and pub crawl. Unfortunately, the city also has one of the highest DUI fatality rates on Saint Patrick's Day, with a rate nearly 750% greater than the national average. Lieutenant Tim Williams of the Mishawaka Police Department—whose jurisdiction neighbors South Bend—advises that Saint Patrick's Day party goers decide "before [they] even leave the house" to not drink and drive.

Chart comparing South Bend's Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rate to the Indiana state and the national average.

Breakdown of the Most Dangerous Cities for Saint Patrick's Day DUIs by Size

The five municipalities listed above were the most dangerous large cities—which we considered as having populations greater than 100,000—however, our analysis surveyed 128 cities with populations as low as 10,157. In order to make accurate comparisons across cities, we grouped them into large, midsize and small designations. Below, we've included the 10 deadliest cities for Saint Patrick's Day DUIs for each size category.

Image of the top 10 worst cities for Saint Patrick's Day DUIs by size.

On average, smaller cities had much higher Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rates. The 22 cities with the highest annual Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate all had populations of less than 50,000. However, this high rate is more likely a function of these municipalities having a small population—which makes them more prone to statistical outliers—than a trend of more deadly roads on Saint Patrick's Day.

Worst States for Saint Patrick's Day DUI Deaths

Our study found that Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, Florida and Louisiana were the five worst states for Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths. These states, despite only being home to 9% of the country's residents, accounted for 18% of the total number of DUI deaths on Saint Patrick's Day from 2008 to 2017. We found the average annual Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate across these states to be 133% greater than the national average. Below, we've included a complete list of how all states—including the District of Columbia—compared for Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths.

Heat map of the worst states for st patrick's day DUI fatalities.


Total Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths (2008 to 2017)
Average annual Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate (per million residents)
2Rhode Island30.29
11South Carolina80.17
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Why Saint Patrick's Day 2019 Could Be More Deadly Than Usual

We found that, on average, during years when Saint Patrick's Day falls on a weekend (in 2019, it is a Sunday) DUI deaths were 95% higher compared to years when it falls on a weekday. However, it's not as bad as it could be, as Saturday ranked as the deadliest day of the week for Saint Patrick's Day to take place by a wide margin. In fact, the last year that March 17 fell on a Saturday (which was 2012), there were 79 DUI deaths—the highest number of any year from 2008 to 2017.

Chart comparing the average number of Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths per year by the day of the week.

Consequences of Drinking and Driving

The biggest risk you take when you get behind the wheel after drinking is that you are putting yourself, your passengers and other motorists in danger. You also risk the additional immediate and long-term consequences that accompany a DUI conviction, which can include:

Driver’s license suspension: In many states, getting a DUI means that your license will be suspended. However, drivers may be able to get their driving privileges reinstated if they purchase SR-22 insurance, which is a type of nonstandard car insurance policy in which your insurer attests that you have the required insurance coverage to your state's DMV.

Fines and jail time: Drivers that are convicted of DUIs could face thousands of dollars in fines as well as jail time. In Texas, for example, a first-time offender can receive a fine of up to $2,000 and spend up to six months in jail.

A DUI can go on your criminal record: DUIs are considered criminal violations and, if you are convicted of one, they go on your criminal record. This can affect a lot of areas of your life, including future job prospects if your potential employers run background checks.

Auto insurance rates increase: Having a DUI violation on your driving record can cause your car insurance rates to increase drastically—by as much as 41%, based on our research. A DUI can affect your rates for up to five years.

In addition to the consequences listed above, your state may have you fulfill other requirements after getting a DUI, such as attending a drunk driving course or installing an ignition switch in your vehicle that prohibits you from driving if you've been drinking.

Complete List of Cities and Their Saint Patrick's Day DUI Fatality Rates

Total Saint Patrick's Day DUI deaths (2008 to 2017)
Average annual Saint Patrick's Day DUI fatality rate (per million residents)
1La Marque, Texas14,509213.78
2Lanham, Maryland10,15719.85
3Placerville, California10,38919.63
4Irmo, South Carolina11,09719.01
5Lake Grove, New York11,16318.96
6Lahaina, Hawaii11,70418.54
7Buford, Georgia12,22518.18
8Zanesville, Ohio25,48727.85
9Wayland, Massachusetts12,99417.70
10Live Oak, Texas13,13117.62
11East Greenwich, Rhode Island13,14617.61
12Bedford, Indiana13,41317.46
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We compiled the number of fatalities caused by drunk driving accidents—where drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08%—that occured on March 17 from 2008 to 2017, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition to accidents that occured on March 17, we also included DUI fatalities that occurred in the early morning of March 18 before 6:00 a.m.

Population data was sourced from the U.S. Census. In order to make accurate comparisons, we grouped cities into large, midsize and small designations:

  • Large cities were considered as having populations greater than 100,000
  • Midsized cities were considered as having populations between 50,001 to 100,000
  • Small cities were considered as having populations between 10,001 to 50,000

We did not consider cities with populations of 10,000 residents or less.

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 of the insurance industry and driver behaviors 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.