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The drunkest state in the US isn’t the one you’d assume

Published Nov 4th, 2020 6:40PM EST
drunkest state
Image: BRAD/Adobe

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  • A ranking of the drunkest states in the United States was built using data regarding total alcohol consumption, DUI arrests, and craft beer breweries.
  • Parts of the list are relatively predictable, but the top 10 portion has some curveballs that you might not expect.
  • The drunkest state gets its title largely because of the huge number of DUI arrests.

As a Wisconsin resident, when I saw a list pop up on BestLife that claimed to rank the drunkest states in the United States, you can imagine my anticipation of coming in at the top of the list. Wisconsin is often cited as having the biggest party colleges and, well, drinking a lot. It’s not a great thing to be known for, but it is what it is.

Shockingly, Wisconsin only barely squeaks by in the top 5, based on the website’s “Drunk Score” rating that takes into account overall alcohol consumption, number of bars per capita, DUI arrests per capita, and the number of craft breweries per capita. I’ll dive into why some of those figures may be skewed in a moment, but let’s take a look at the drunkest and most sober states in the country.

Starting from the bottom of the list, here are the least drunk states in the country, based on the data collected by BestLife:

  1. Utah
  2. Arkansas
  3. Georgia
  4. Alabama
  5. Kansas
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Mississippi
  8. Virginia
  9. Maryland
  10. West Virginia

Okay, so not a lot of surprises here. Nothing seems particularly out of the ordinary, and Utah definitely makes sense as the soberest state, with rock-bottom alcohol consumption and a very, very low overall “drunk score.” Now let’s take a look at the opposite end of the list and see which states are the drunkest.

  1. North Dakota
  2. Montana
  3. South Dakota
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Wisconsin
  6. Wyoming
  7. Vermont
  8. Nevada
  9. Alaska
  10. Colorado

Well! Wisconsin coming in 5th is obviously my biggest surprise, but if you look at the data, the rankings start to make a bit more sense. The DUI arrests per capita in North Dakota are absolutely huge. They don’t drink more than any other state — New Hampshire handily beats them in overall alcohol consumption — but North Dakota residents appear to get arrested a whole lot more for driving while under the influence.

Wisconsin’s numbers are all pretty high, but there is no huge outlier that would push my home state to the top of the list. Meanwhile, states like Wyoming also come in high in DUI arrests and Vermont apparently has a TON of craft breweries per capita, which is something I guess I wouldn’t have thought.

Of course, if you don’t see your state on either of these shorter lists, that means you fall somewhere in the middle. Head over to BestLife to get the full rundown and see just how drunk your state is.