The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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Source: self / Wikimedia Commons

15. Sheboygan, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.0%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.1%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 234 (202.7 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $54,059

Alcohol is expensive and often only affordable to those with disposable income — and very few people in Sheboygan struggle for money. The area’s poverty rate of just 5.4% is the lowest in the nation by more than a full percentage point and well below the 14.0% national poverty rate.

Wisconsin is the heaviest drinking state in the country and Sheboygan is one of 10 metro areas in the state to rank among the heaviest drinking in the country. Some 23.0% of adults in the Sheboygan metro area drink excessively.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Dubuque, IA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.0%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 40.0%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 199 (205.1 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $60,456

Dubuque is one of three metro areas in Iowa to rank among those with the highest excessive drinking rates nationwide. Some 23.0% of adults in the Dubuque metro area drink excessively, compared to 22.1% of adults across the state and 18.0% of adults nationwide.

Excessive drinking is a risky behavior, and getting behind the wheel after drinking also endangers the lives of others. In Dubuque, a larger than typical 40% share of driving deaths involve alcohol. Nationwide, 30% of driving deaths involve alcohol.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Iowa City, IA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.1%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 17.7%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 387 (229.2 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $57,777

Like many college towns, the Iowa City metro area boasts a high concentration of bars and restaurants. There are an estimated 387 places to drink in the area, or about 229 per 100,000 people. That is well above the national average concentration of 184 places to drink per 100,000 people.

The high concentration of drinking venues may be partially explained by demand. In Iowa City, 23.1% of adults report drinking excessively, a larger share than in all but a dozen other U.S. metro areas and slightly higher than the statewide excessive drinking rate of 22.1%.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Fond du Lac, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.5%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.0%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 188 (184.1 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $58,310

Fond du Lac is one of 10 Wisconsin metro areas to appear on this list. Though 23.5% of adults in the metro area drink excessively, they are actually less likely than the average Wisconsin adult to drink excessively. In Wisconsin, 26.2% of adults drink excessively — the highest rate of any state and well above the 18.0% national average.

Excessive drinking is never healthy. Still, alcohol consumption is just one of a multitude of factors that can affect health outcomes across a population. Despite the metro area’s relatively high excessive drinking rate, just 13.8% of adults in Fond du Lac are in fair or poor health, well below the 16.0% of adults nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 18.0%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 181 (181.0 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $57,833

Mankato-North Mankato is the only metro area in Minnesota to rank among the cities with the highest excessive drinking rates. Some 23.6% of adults in Mankato-North Mankato drink excessively, a larger share than the 22.9% of adults across the state and the 22.3% of adults who drink excessively in Duluth, the second heaviest drinking metro area in Minnesota.

While excessive drinking is relatively common in the metro area, drunk driving does not appear to be. From 2011 to 2015, there were 50 driving deaths in the Mankato-North Mankato metro area, only nine of which involved alcohol. The area’s rate of 10.9 alcohol involved driving deaths per 100,000 driving age residents is one of the lowest rates in the nation.