The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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10. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.8%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 26.4%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 313 (228.6 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $55,717

Bars and restaurants are more common in La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin than in the majority of U.S. metro areas. The are 313 drinking venues in the area of just under 137,000 people, which amounts to about 229 bars and restaurants per 100,000 people. Nationwide, there are just 184 bars and restaurants for every 100,000 people.

Serious car accidents can be the result of a number of factors and conditions and a high excessive drinking rate does not necessarily mean metro area residents are more likely to drive under the influence. In La Crosse, driving deaths are actually less likely to involve alcohol than is typical nationwide. Alcohol is a factor in 26.4% of fatal auto accidents in the metro area compared to 30.0% nationwide.

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9. Wausau, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 24.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 28.9%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 253 (186.6 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $54,774

Of the 10 metro areas with the highest excessive drinking rates, seven are in Wisconsin. The central Wisconsin metro area of Wausau is one of them. Some 24.2% of adults in the Wausau metro area drink excessively compared to 18.0% of American adults.

Though many Wisconsin metro areas are among those with the highest excessive drinking rates nationwide, the statewide excessive drinking rate of 26.2% is even higher than in most of its metro areas. Of the dozen metro areas in the state, Green Bay is the only one reporting a higher excessive drinking rate than the statewide rate. This means that excessive drinking is even more common outside of the state’s urban areas.

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8. Grand Forks, ND-MN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 24.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 34.0%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 206 (200.5 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $48,671

Because drinking alcohol can be expensive, places with high excessive drinking rates also often have high median incomes. But not in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The area’s median household income of $48,671 a year is well below the national median of $57,617.

The high excessive drinking rate may be at least partially explained by the presence of University of North Dakota. According to studies, university students tend to binge drink at far higher rates than other age groups. Grand Forks is one of several college towns to rank among the heaviest drinking metro areas.

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7. Missoula, MT
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 24.3%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 44.4%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 285 (245.4 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $46,550

Missoula is the only metro area in Montana with a near nationleading excessive drinking rate. Some 24.3% of metro area adults drink excessively. This may be at least in part due to the fact that Missoula is home to the University of Montana and college students are among the most likely groups to drink to excess. The metro area in Montana with the second highest excessive drinking rate is Billings, where 22.0% of adults report drinking excessively.

Other than the greater tendency to drink excessively, adults in Missoula tend to make healthy lifestyle choices. A relatively low percentage are overweight, and a far greater than typical share get at least some exercise.

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6. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 24.5%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 47.9%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 327 (192.5 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $56,754

Some 24.5% of adults in the Oshkosh-Neenah, Wisconsin, metro area drink excessively, a far greater share than the 18.0% of adults nationwide. However, not all unhealthy behaviors are widespread in Oshkosh-Neenah. For example, just 16.4% of metro area adults smoke, below both the state smoking rate of 17.1% and the nationwide rate of 17.0%.

Wisconsin has the highest excessive drinking rate of any state in the country. Oshkosh-Neenah has the sixth highest excessive drinking rate in the country and the fifth highest in Wisconsin.