Driving Dangerously: Car Brands With the Most DUIs

Impaired driving through a tunnel at night.

With the holiday season just around the corner, Americans should prepare for congested roads, inclement weather, and, unfortunately, higher rates of driving under the influence. Before you hit the road, check out this list of the five car brands whose drivers report the most DUIs. 

It’s that time of year again. The air is crisp, spirits are high, and the holidays are about to make travel as hectic as ever. Beyond the winter storms and busy roads, one of the most serious issues travelers face during the holiday season is drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving while intoxicated increases during the holidays, ultimately leading to thousands of preventable traffic fatalities every year. Driving under the influence not only poses an extreme risk to drivers and passengers on the roads, but a DUI can also rightly push your car insurance rate through the roof: drivers with a DUI can pay more than $1,400 yearly compared to drivers with a clean record.  

Despite the many incentives to drive sober, DUIs remain unfortunately common, so travelers need to take extra precaution on the roads this season. To help inform drivers on staying safe on the roads this year, the data science team at Insurify turned to their dataset of over 4 million car insurance applications to determine the car brands with the most DUIs in 2021. 

Bar chart depicting the 5 auto brands whose drivers have the most DUIs in 2021.

Insights

  • National averages. On average, 1.83 out of every 100 drivers in America have a DUI on record within the past seven years. Additionally, 28% of fatal motor vehicle crash fatalities result from alcohol-impaired driving, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
  • Too fast and out of control. While owning a speed machine doesn’t necessarily compel one to drive dangerously, high-performance brands are over-represented on the list of car makes with the most DUIs. Three of the top five car brands on the list produce luxury sports vehicles. Plus, the Acura NSX—a fiendishly-fast, 600-hp racer—has the highest DUI rate of any “worst offender” among the top five brands. 
  • All electric, no intoxicants. It may come as a surprise, but Tesla drivers accrue DUIs at the lowest rate of any car brand in the country. A mere 0.88 out of 100 Tesla drivers have a DUI on record, a share that’s 52% lower than the national average. Tesla Model Y drivers are the most careful of all, receiving DUI citations 69% less often than the average motorist.

Methodology

To identify the car makes with the most DUIs, data scientists at Insurify, a car insurance comparison site, referred to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications. 

To apply for car insurance, drivers input personal and vehicle information, including the make and model of the car they drive and whether or not they have been cited for driving under the influence on their record in the past seven years. The Insurify data science team compared the number of car owners with a prior DUI citation to the total number of drivers for each make and model to determine the proportion of drivers with a DUI citation on record. From this analysis, they identified the top five car brands with the highest share of drivers with DUIs. For each of the top five brands, they further identified the car model with the highest share of DUIs and the car model with the lowest share of DUIs. These car models are classified as the “worst offender” and the “best behaved,” respectively. 

The findings in this article represent statistical trends found in Insurify’s database of over 4 million car insurance applications. The findings of this study are not meant to imply the direction nor necessarily the existence of a causal relationship. Rather, this is a presentation of statistical correlations of public interest.

5 Car Brands With the Most DUIs

5. Acura

  • Acura drivers with a prior DUI: 2.26 per 100 (24% higher than the national average)
  • Worst offender: Acura NSX (4.64 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)
  • Best behaved: Acura RL (1.03 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)

As Honda’s luxury brand, Acura is known for sleek styling and sporty performance while still maintaining Honda’s characteristic reliability. Some Acura drivers, however, have proven unreliable behind the wheel: 2.26 per 100 Acura drivers report having a DUI within the past seven years, a share that’s 24% higher than the national average. The brand’s worst offender is also quite the head-turner. With an MSRP over $170,000, the Acura NSX is a top-of-the-line performance vehicle whose drivers accrue DUIs over 2.5 times more often than the typical motorist. 

4. Audi

  • Audi drivers with a prior DUI: 2.32 per 100 (27% higher than the national average)
  • Worst offender: Audi A4 Allroad (3.76 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)
  • Best behaved: Audi Q7 (1.06 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)

Audi drivers rack up DUI citations 27% more often than the national average, placing the brand fourth on the list of car makes with the most DUIs. The A4 Allroad is the manufacturer’s worst offender, with its drivers reporting a DUI nearly twice as often as the average motorist. Yet, not all Audi drivers display such recklessness. Just 1.06 out of every 100 Audi Q7 owners have a DUI on record, a share that’s 42% lower than the national average. 

3. BMW

  • BMW drivers with a prior DUI: 2.34 per 100 (28% higher than the national average)
  • Worst offender: BMW 2-Series (4.26 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)
  • Best behaved: BMW X3 (1.08 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)

Like Audi and Acura, BMW is a well-respected producer of luxury sports vehicles. The similarities do not stop there, however, as BMW drivers also have a high rate of DUIs on record. 2.34 out of every 100 BMW drivers report having received a DUI in the past seven years, which is 28% higher than the national average. BMW’s worst offender is the sporty 2-Series racer, while the best behaved X3—an SUV—is comparably more tame. 

2. Buick

  • Buick drivers with a prior DUI: 2.41 per 100 (32% higher than the national average)
  • Worst offender: Buick Lucerne (3.33 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)
  • Best behaved: Buick Encore GX (1.03 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)

Though the list of car makes with the most DUIs is full of sporty brands, Buick bucks this trend. Rather a pure luxury manufacturer, Buick focuses on providing comfort and style at a more accessible price point. Still, Buick drivers report DUIs at a rate that’s 32% higher than the national average, with 2.41 per 100 motorists having one on record. The manufacturer is second overall on the list of car brands with most DUIs, though its worst offender, the Buick Lucerne, has the lowest DUI rate of any worst offender among the top five brands. 

1. Pontiac

  • Pontiac drivers with a prior DUI: 2.55 per 100 (39% higher than the national average)
  • Worst offender: Pontiac Bonneville (3.68 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)
  • Best behaved: Pontiac Solstice (1.40 per 100 drivers reporting a prior DUI)

Though the Pontiac brand proved successful for decades, General Motors finally retired the division in 2010. In the 10-plus years since, Pontiac owners maintained their presence on the roads, though in too many instances they’ve also driven while intoxicated. A full 2.55 out of every 100 Pontiac drivers report a DUI on record, a share that’s 39% higher than the national average. While drivers of the brand’s best behaved model, the Pontiac Solstice, have a below-average rate of DUIs, they still accrue such citations more often than any other best behaved model, helping to make Pontiac the number one car brand with the most DUIs in 2021. 

If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to request the data, please contact insights@insurify.com.

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