FARGO — Perhaps due to harsh winters or a prevalent drinking culture, North Dakota finds itself at the top of a study looking at the percentage of drivers reporting a history of DUI.
About 5.73 percent of North Dakota drivers report a DUI in their history in a seven-year period, according to the study, conducted by Insurify, a website that helps users compare auto insurance quotes.
The study collected data from the last seven years of more than 1.6 million people who signed up to use Insurify’s service between 2016 and 2019 to compile a list of the top 10 states with the highest percentage of drivers with a DUI history, said Nick Behn, content specialist at Insurify.
The data sample is representative of the nation as a whole, Behn said.
Along with North Dakota, the other nine states are Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming.
Wyoming, coming in at second place, is the only other state to break more than 5 percent of its drivers with a DUI history, according to the study.
Colorado is in 10th place with 3.13 percent of drivers with a DUI history, the study shows.
All of the states mentioned in the study are ones with large rural areas and harsh winters, factors that contribute to the percentage of drivers with DUI histories.
Bars become a venue for socialization due to the decrease in available outdoor activity in colder climates and cold states, said Kevin Thompson, professor of criminal justice at the North Dakota State University, in an email.
Thompson said culture also plays a role.
The majority of people who have settled in the states named in the study are of western and northern European and German-Russian heritage, cultures where the drinking rates are high, he said.
"Drinking has been a part of the social culture of these countries for hundreds of years and has clearly carried this custom ... into the U.S.," Thompson said.
The states in the study are also predominantly rural, where drinking and driving is more common and people find themselves travelling longer distances to get to the bar and back home, Thompson said.
“Hence, their odds of encountering difficulty in driving and getting picked up increases,” he said.
In addition, the act of calling a cab or a similar service, like Uber, is largely confined to urban areas where people have been accustomed for decades to hail a cab wherever they need to go, Thompson said.