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By Miriam Raftery

April 14, 2019 (San Diego) – San Diego has been ranked the 7th worst city in the nation for drunk driving, according to a study by, a Lending Tree company.   The study, called “Drunkest Driving Cities in America,” was based on the rate of driving under the influence citations during 2017. 

In addition, out of every 100,000 people in the city of San Diego, there were 2.34 drunk driving fatalities.  View the full rankings:  Drunkest Driving Cities in America.

Seven of the worst 25 cities for drunk driving are in California, though the top 6—those worse than San Diego—were in other states with Greensboro, North Carolina the worst in the nation.  Cities from across the nation including the east coast, midwest and northwest also made the list.

DUI citations can include impairment by street drugs, prescription medications, or marijuana sold legally in some states. 

It’s unclear why San Diego, which touts itself as America’s Finest City, ranks so poorly in having a high rate of drunk driving. 

Some possible explanations could include the fact that San Diego is a mecca for tourists and also attracts many conventions, meaning people come here to vacation and party hearty—and there are plenty of bars, restaurants, casinos and other venues serving up alcohol to visitors as well as residents.  San Diego is also known as one of the craft brewing capitols of the craft brewing capitol of the U.S. and has a thriving winery industry as well.  In addition, San Diego has a high rate of methamphetamine addiction as well as  growing opiate drug problem.  Medical marijuana was legal at the time the study was taken, and recreational marijuana use has since become legal, which may exacerbate the issue of impaired driving.

San Diego has taken some steps to combat driving under the influence, including DUI checkpoints and having a long-standing ban on alcohol on public beaches.  But the findings will likely spur arguments that more should be done to protect motorists from those driving under the influence.  It may also give new impetus to the battle against a bill pending in Sacramento that would allow bars to remain open until 4 a.m.

One factor that may mitigate the high DUI rate and not yet be reflected in the 2017 data is the rise in alternative transportation methods such as the growing number of San Diegans who rely on Uber and Lyft, as well as those using dockless bicycles or scooters to get around. The latter has given rise to a new form of impaired driving, however, with at least one recent dockless scooter fatality in San Diego tied to a rider who had been drinking.

The study looked only at cities, and did not measure the DUI rate for San Diego County’s unincorporated areas or other cities within the county.

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