The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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Source: Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons

10. Cleveland, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 41.0%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 166 (134.0 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $44,881

The Cleveland, Tennessee, metropolitan area is one of several in the Volunteer State among U.S. cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates. Some 12.2% of Cleveland area adults drink excessively, below the statewide excessive drinking rate of 14.4%.

Though relatively few adults in the metropolitan area drink excessively, the area has a high rate of alcohol-related fatal auto accidents. Alcohol played a role in 41.0% of automotive fatalities in the area from 2011 to 2015, compared to 30.0% of driving deaths nationwide during the same time.

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9. Pine Bluff, AR
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 34.8%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 115 (122.2 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $37,076

Some 12.2% of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, area adults report drinking excessively — the lowest rate of any metro area in Arkansas and below the statewide excessive drinking rate of 15.9%.

Buying alcohol can be expensive, and places with lower incomes frequently have lower rates of unhealthy alcohol consumption. This is the case in Pine Bluff, one of the poorest places in America. The median household income in the metro area of $37,076 a year is more than $20,000 below the national median household income. Only a handful of other U.S. metro areas have a lower median household income. Some 21.8% of Pine Bluff residents live in poverty compared to 14.0% of people nationwide and 17.2% of Arkansas residents.

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8. Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.2%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 30.6%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 194 (214.2 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $46,594

Much like the rest of West Virginia, very few residents the Parkersburg-Vienna metro area drink excessively. Some 12.2% of area adults report excessive drinking. Though it is the eighth lowest rate among U.S. metro areas, it is above the West Virginia excessive drinking rate of 11.8%, the lowest of all states.

Despite the low excessive drinking rate, there are many places in the Parkersburg-Vienna area to buy alcohol. There are 214 bars and restaurants per 100,000 people for residents to buy alcohol, greater than the national concentration of 184 bars and restaurants per 100,000 people.

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7. Morristown, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 11.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 26.4%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: N/A
> Median household income: $44,348

Some 11.9% of adults in Morristown, Tennessee, drink excessively. The state of Tennessee has some of the more restrictive liquor laws in the country. It is illegal to sell wine in the state on Sundays, and grocery stores only recently gained the ability to sell wine at all.

Those restrictive alcohol sales laws may be one of the reasons why Tennessee’s metro areas are some of the driest in the country. Of the 20 cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates, six are in the Volunteer State.

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6. Logan, UT-ID
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 11.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 16.7%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 167 (123.3 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $57,414

Logan, Utah, was founded by a group of Mormon settlers in the mid-1800s. Today, a strong majority of city residents identify as Mormon, a religion that teaches its followers to avoid alcohol consumption. Partially as a result, Logan has one of the lowest excessive drinking rates in the United States. Just 11.6% of adults in the metro area either binge or heavily drink, below the 13.4% statewide excessive drinking rate and the 18.0% nationwide rate.

Residents’ drinking habits are reflected in the number of drinking establishments in the metro area. There are only 123 bars and restaurants for every 100,000 Logan residents, one of the smallest ratios of any U.S. metro area.