ND ranks above most states in DUI arrests

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 3:55 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There are thousands of registered drivers in North Dakota, and one in six have something in common: a DUI.

When it comes to DUI arrests, ND outranks most states. Many reports have the state either in the number one spot or in the top three.

“And we do have a lot of DUI arrests in North Dakota compared to other states, but very similar to our neighbors, Montana and South Dakota. We all do kind of have a high number of DUI arrests,” said Lauren Wahlman, Vision Zero public safety information program manager.

Trooper Tarek Chase with North Dakota Highway Patrol oversees the state’s field sobriety tests and drug recognition program. He says in any given year, there are anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 DUI arrests. Last year the number was 4,080. So far this year, it’s 2,714.

“Around a third to a half of all fatal crashes have alcohol involved. We don’t have statistics on drugs — we are still working on a way to have better drug-impaired statistics,” said Trooper Chase.

There is no exact answer as to why the state ranks so high for DUIs, but there are some educated guesses.

“I think some of it is speculation, but we are a very rural state. That may play a factor in some of this, just because we’re so spread out. Maybe part of it, too, is that socially acceptable aspect,” said Trooper Chase.

Wahlman says in smaller towns it can be harder to find ride shares, but there is always a safer option than drinking and driving.

“Best thing we can do is take personal responsibility and having a sober ride planned,” said Wahlman.

Penalties for DUI can be a $500 fine, a suspended license or even one year in prison.