2021’s Most Dangerous Days for DUIs

Drunk driving remains a significant problem throughout the country. But certain days are more dangerous on the roads than others. MoneyGeek analyzed historical data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to forecast 2021's most dangerous days, weeks and holidays for drunk driving in the United States.

  • MoneyGeek is forecasting 8,555 DUI fatalities in 2021.
  • Summer will account for 29% of drunk driving-related fatalities, making it the deadliest season.
  • The week leading up to July 4th is forecasted to be the most deadly in 2021, with 209 fatalities.
  • On New Year's Day, the drunk driving-related deaths spike 129% above the baseline average, making it most dangerous holiday of the year when it comes to drunk driving.
  • 62% of drunk driving-related fatalities happen on the weekends (Friday through Sunday)
  • Christmas drunk driving rates are expected to increase this year because Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

DUI Fatalities by Season

Drunk driving incidents never really take a hiatus, but certain seasons bring out more than the usual amount of intoxicated drivers. If you want to steer clear of people driving under the influence, the summer is the worst time to drive. According to MoneyGeek's analysis, 28.52% of DUI-related deaths are projected to happen in the summer of 2021.

Spring is close behind summer when it comes to the number of DUI fatalities per season, though, coming in with 26.33%. Fall has almost a quarter of DUI incidents — 23.82%. Winter presents its own seasonal dangers on the road, but you’ll still need to avoid drunk drivers during this chilly time of year. At 21.34%, winter is the least likely season to be involved in a DUI-related fatal accident.

Most Dangerous Holidays for DUI

The next time someone warns you to be careful when driving home from your New Year's Eve celebration, don't roll your eyes. Heed their warning. New Year's Day is the deadliest day of the year when it comes to drunk driving.

The odds that somebody will be drunk behind the wheel and cause a fatal accident on New Year's Day is 129% higher relative to the seasonal trend and day of the week where it falls. Unlike other holidays, where the celebrations may occur over a period of days, New Year’s is one night, with drivers making their way back home in the wee hours of New Year's Day. And many folks get that full day off to boot.

Independence Day is in second place, but far off in the distance compared to New Year's Day. Your risk of encountering drunk drivers on the Fourth of July is 100% over the trend.

Apparently, a lot of people like to have a drink (or two or three) with their turkey dinners, because Thanksgiving is the third most dangerous holiday, with a risk 77% higher than the trend. Maybe some people feel the need to drink after being cooped up with their relatives. You'll want to be on guard if you're driving back home on Thanksgiving night after spending the day with family and friends.

Labor Day comes in fourth place (61%), and Memorial Day is the fifth most dangerous holiday for drunk driving, with a risk 54% higher than average. Since many people tend to stay put on Christmas Day, the risk of encountering a drunk driver goes down to a 32% higher risk than average.

Most Dangerous Days of the Week for DUI

Analysis of DUI fatalities that occurred between 2015 and 2019 shows that the most dangerous day of the week to drive in 2021 is Saturday, with Sundays being close behind. Tuesday is the day of the week when the least amount of drunk drivers tend to be on the road.

Of all the DUI-related accidents occurring in any given week, 23.82% are predicted to occur on Saturday and 22.25% on Sunday. One reason Sunday appears so deadly is that many DUI-related accidents happen after midnight. Your likelihood of encountering a drunk driver, depending on the day of the week, is as follows:

Most Dangerous Weeks of the Year

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  • Week Starting Monday
    Fatality Forecast
  • 6/28/2021
    July 4th Week
  • 7/26/2021
  • 5/24/2021
    Memorial Day Weekend (Fri, Sat & Sun)
  • 8/2/2021
  • 7/19/2021
  • 9/6/2021
    Labor Day Weekend
  • 8/30/2021
  • 5/31/2021
    Memorial Day Weekend (Mon)
  • 7/12/2021
  • 6/21/2021

The most dangerous week of 2021 will start on Monday, June 28. Independence Day falls on a Sunday at the end of that week. Between those two days, throughout the week, DUI accidents are expected to rise. People are taking off work, going on vacations, attending barbecues, visiting beaches and unwinding in general. The data shows that some of those people will get behind the wheel after drinking too much.

The second most dangerous week in 2021 for drunk driving begins on July 26 — when summer's in full swing — and you’ll want to be on high alert if you’re driving at night.

The week leading up to and including Memorial Day weekend, which falls on May 31 this year, is estimated to be the third deadliest of the year when it comes to drunk driving.

Ways to Stay Safe on the Road During the Holidays

There’s only so much you can do, of course, to protect yourself from a drunk driver. It isn’t practical to only drive on Tuesdays, for instance, but if you don’t need to be out late on a holiday, there may be something to be said for not going out. Still, there are some strategies you can employ to stay safe on the road.

  • Have a designated driver: If you’re drinking with friends, make sure whoever is behind the wheel hasn’t been drinking.
  • Have a return home plan: If everybody you are with will be drinking, and there is no designated driver, know ahead of time who you’ll be calling for a ride home, whether that’s a family member or an Uber driver.
  • Make sure you’re strapped in: Good advice for anybody in a car, any time, of course, whether you encounter a drunk driver or not. But Heather Geronemus, the national chairwoman of MADD, counsels, “The best defense against drunk drivers is to always wear your seatbelt and make sure children are properly restrained.”
  • Drive without distractions: It doesn’t matter if you’re sober. If you’re driving — especially at night — stay off the phone and keep your eyes on the road. Distracted driving rivals drunk driving for dangerous behaviors on the road. Unfortunately, there often isn’t much you can do if a drunk driver careens toward your car, but being alert could make all the difference in surviving an encounter with a drunk driver.

Consequences of Getting a DUI

Heather Geronemus has become an expert on the consequences of drunk driving from the victim’s side. In 2009, her father, Dr. Robert Geronemus, a prominent kidney specialist in Fort Lauderdale, was leaving a medical conference dinner in downtown Miami as a pedestrian when he was struck by a car that went through a red light.

“First, it's most important to think about what DUIs cost families,” she says. “For a victim like me, you cannot put a price on a lifetime of memories that you will never make with a loved one.”

But there is definitely a monetary cost, Geronemus says. “From a financial perspective, it’s most important to understand what DUIs cost society. Estimates show that drunk driving costs our nation over $130 billion per year. Much of these costs are borne by taxpayers, not the drunk driver. This issue affects us all and it makes financial sense to try to eliminate drunk driving.”

And what’s the real financial cost for somebody who gets pulled over for driving while intoxicated? It’s not pretty.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates a first-time drunk driver can pay as much as $10,000 in fines, legal fees, and higher insurance costs,” Geronemus says.

What's more, a DUI continues to impact your wallet long after the initial violation. A DUI can cause your insurance rates to increase significantly, for example, and the cheapest car insurance rates will immediately be out of your reach. You may also be required to file an SR-22, which you can't do on your own. Your insurance company must file the SR-22 for you, and not all insurance companies offer that option.

So, whether or not an SR-22 is a requirement for you, it can be beneficial to shop around to confirm whether your insurance provider can still offer you the cheapest rates after you've had a DUI, or if another company might be able to save you at least a little bit of money.

With the above in mind, if you’re ever at a point where you’ve done some drinking but don’t feel drunk, and you’re tempted to save a little money and not call an Uber, you should rethink that decision. The short-term costs of a ride home could save you thousands in complications related to a DUI and save lives.

An End to Drunk Driving

Heather Geronemus says that someday, the number of drunk driving accidents is bound to go down. Not soon enough, of course.

“MADD believes that technology will ultimately solve the problem of drunk driving. We are working on Capitol Hill to support legislation such as the RIDE Act and HALT Act, which would direct the Department of Transportation to require new cars to have advanced technology to detect and stop drunk drivers.”

Geronemus adds: “The technology would be passive, so the driver wouldn’t know it’s in the car unless he or she were impaired.”

But until that happens, driving defensively and never drinking and driving can help keep you and other drivers on the road safe.


MoneyGeek analyzed the five most recent years of DUI Crash Fatalities from the NHTSA FARS database from 2015 to 2019. A Bayesian time series forecasting model was utilized to project the 2021 DUI fatalities by day. The forecast model was fit using a multiplicative model (the components are multiplied together) using day of the week, day of the year, U.S. holidays and trend line components.

Metrics Utilized

MoneyGeek studied NHTSA data on fatal motor vehicle crashes from 2015 to 2019 involving someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08g/dl or more.

About the Author


Geoff Williams has been a personal finance journalist since around the time of the Great Recession of 2008. He's been writing professionally since the 1990s about a variety of topics, including personal finance, credit cards and loans.

Williams is also the author of several books, including "Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever" and "C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America."

Born in Columbus, Williams now lives in Loveland, Ohio, with his two teenage daughters.