I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
There’s something about the Dakotas. Not the Manchester boys, whom we met briefly in 1963 and never gave a musical thought to since, but the states pegged squarely — rectangularly, really — in the north central United States of America.
They’re drowning in alcohol.
North and South Dakota are the number 1 and 2 likeliest places to be arrested for drunk driving. Stumbling in at number 3 is the state I call home: welcome to colorful and moistly convivial Colorado.
This was pointed out to me, and a saloonful of others of his colleagues, by Gary Pirosko, one of Colorado’s finest DUI lawyers, who knows a thing or two about it. This was pointed out to him by Project Know, dedicated to the sober life. This was pointed out to them by the Federal Bureau of Intoxication (mostly just called the FBI). The full Project Know study is here.
The FBI says there are more than a million DUI arrests every year in the U.S. Factoring in the crime-stopping capabilities of law enforcement, that means there are almost exactly one billion drunk drivers on the road.
I’ve never been to the Dakotas, so I turned to Wikipedia for clues as to why those two states are purportedly the most inebriated. I found two. That source helpfully and immediately points out that “The Dakotas” are not to be confused with “The Dakota,” a much ritzier living space in New York City.
So far, so good.
The other clue was that nearly half the people who live there are of German ancestry. Germany lost a lot of world wars.
Project Know also looked at some of our big cities, with interesting results. Chicago, a bootlegger’s paradise during Prohibition, racked up more than five thousand DUI arrests in barely a year. Portland: three thousand, three hundred thirty-five in two years. Denver: two thousand, one hundred twenty-eight in almost three years. Kansas City: nine hundred thirty-two in ten months. Seattle, where by God it rains a lot: five thousand four hundred thirty-nine in not even two years. San Francisco, where people leave their hearts and other contents of their bodies on barroom floors with some regularity: two thousand five hundred ninety-four in almost five years.
The big city that gave Project Know the most pause, though, was Boston — not because there were so many DUI arrests, but so few: an average of only two hundred sixty-four a year. But I think I know why. I lived in Boston for many years, and in my memory of their fitness level, the average Boston policeman couldn’t catch a drunken pedestrian.
Alabama has by far the lowest number of drunk driving arrests in the nation. However, I’m not sure it’s totally illegal to drive drunk there.
And my home state? Why are we number 3?
Beyond competitive nature, there’s no explaining Colorado.