While South Dakota is widely recognized as one of the best states in which to find a job, raise a family, start a business and enjoy the outdoors, we also have our share of problems. A recent study shone a bright light on one of those issues, pointing out that South Dakota is the worst state in the nation for drunk driving.

Across the U.S., there is a national average of 301 drunk driving arrests per 100,000 residents. Our rate is more than double that – with a drunk driving arrest rate of 721.9 per 100,000 residents. The second-highest total is in North Dakota, where there are 678 arrests per 100,000.

The list of the 10 worst states is rounded out with Wyoming, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Maine, Washington, Alaska and Wisconsin.

At the other end of the spectrum are the 10 states with the lowest drunk driving rates:

  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Louisiana
  • Florida
  • Ohio
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri

In fact, South Dakota’s rate of drunk driving arrests per 100,000 residents is 16 times worse than Delaware’s best-in-the-nation rate of 44.3.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. We have led the nation as the worst drunk driving state four years in a row and have been among the 10 worst every year for the past decade, never finishing better than third worst.

But it also gets better. Though we are the worst in the nation, we used to have an even worse situation. In 2017, there were 1,118 DUI/DWI arrests per 100,000 residents – significantly higher than today’s rate.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers says that about 9% of all drivers in daytime fatal crashes that year were impaired by alcohol, compared to 32% of those in night-time fatal wrecks. The weekend fatality rate is about twice as high as the deadly drunk driving rate on weekdays.

Of course, statistics only illustrate a problem. Those who have been injured – or have lost a loved one in a crash caused by a drunk or drugged driver know the day-to-day pain of surgeries, grief, hospital stays and loss.

If you or your family has been harmed by a drunk driver, contact a Rapid City attorney experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation across the state.