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14 Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics (2024)

Kaylind Landes
6 minute read

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, and people have the time off from work to gather with loved ones who don’t live close.

That’s why travel spikes on holidays—whether it’s flying home for Christmas or driving to a friend’s house for an Independence Day cookout, people are on the move during these times of celebration. In 2023, the American Automobile Association (AAA) projected motorists would share the highways with 103.6 million other drivers during the year-end holidays. Unfortunately, this also increases the risks on the road and the number of accidents caused by weather, distracted driving, drunk driving, and more.

Are people more likely to drive drunk during the holidays? Too often, the answer is yes. To help you better understand what might be waiting on the road, we’ve gathered several holiday drunk driving statistics to illustrate the risks in Oklahoma and the rest of the country.

Types of DUIs

Before jumping into the statistics, let’s take a look at what driving under the influence (DUI) means, exactly. While the term has become a catch-all term for any charge involving impaired driving, the reality is there are several levels and types of DUI charges, including:

  • DUI – Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .08 and .15.
  • Aggravated DUI – BAC is .15 and higher.
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) – BAC is .06 or .07. In Oklahoma, a DWI has different charges and punishments from a DUI.
  • DUI Drugs – Illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs that are present in your system and impaired your ability to drive.

Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics

Alcohol is part of many festivities, but the data tells us that some holidays—in particular New Year’s and the December holidays—are more likely to produce drunk driving than others. Here are some interesting statistics, presented by holiday in chronological order:

New Year’s Eve & Day

Even the tamest New Year’s Eve parties tend to include a toast at midnight, but other, rowdier celebrations tend to include a high consumption of alcohol. When the celebrations end, some revelers, unfortunately, end up on the road with other drivers.

  1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that fatal crashes spike 130% on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day compared to the national baseline.
  2. Historically, Oklahoma sees 20 times more fatal overnight collisions during the New Year’s holiday.
  3. In 2021, there were a total of 479 total crashes during the New Year’s holiday and 34 of those crashes were alcohol and/or drug related.
  4. In 2023, Oklahoma drivers did their part; Captain Scott Hampton of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol stated New Year’s Eve DUI arrests and collisions were down compared to prior years.

Memorial Day Weekend

Like Labor Day, Memorial Day lands on a weekend and is often punctuated by sales, parties, and sports—which means more time potentially dedicated to drinking and a resulting spike in holiday DUI statistics.

  1. In 2021, 40% of driving fatalities during the Memorial Day holiday involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Independence Day - July 4th

Unfortunately, the festivities around our nation’s birthday aren’t limited to fireworks and barbecues.

  1. 1,460 drivers died in Fourth of July crashes between 2017 and 2021; 38% of them (around 554) were drunk.
  2. According to the NHTSA, drivers nationwide are 77% more likely to be drunk or impaired on July 4th.

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day celebrations can be particularly prone to excessive drinking because they fall over a long weekend. Themed sales, sporting events (including big football games), concerts, and other activities occur throughout the holiday, providing ample time and reason for someone to pick up a beverage.

  1. Drivers are 54% more likely to be drunk behind the wheel during Labor Day Weekend.
  2. Oklahoma saw 483 vehicular crashes during the 2021 Labor Day holiday; 10% are believed to involve people driving under the influence.


It will surprise no one that holiday drunk driving statistics tend to get worse at the end of the year — November and December are full of festivities. Thanksgiving meals are often accompanied by beer or wine, especially if a football game is on. Also, Turkey Day has historically been the busiest travel period of the year, with many people taking to the roads to celebrate with their loved ones during the long weekend.The “Thanksgiving holiday” is defined as beginning on Thanksgiving Eve (the Wednesday before) and ending on the Sunday.

  1. Between 2017 and 2023, more than 830 people died in Thanksgiving day crashes involving a drunk driver.
  2. From 2017-2021, 137 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve were drunk.

December Holidays

Christmas isn’t entirely to blame for an increase in holiday DUI statistics, because the entire month of December is filled with holiday parties and religious celebrations among friends, families, and coworkers. In short, the month provides many opportunities to drink.

  1. In December 2021, 1,013 people were killed in drunk driving accidents.
  2. From 2017 to 2021, there were over 4,500 deaths in drunk driving traffic crashes during the month of December.
  3. In December 2021, Oklahoma recorded 147 alcohol- or drug-related crashes.

Don’t Become a Holiday Drunk Driving Statistic

If you’ve had something to drink at a holiday party, the safest thing to do is avoid getting behind the wheel. But if you made a bad decision and were charged with a DUI during a holiday (or any other occasion), we can help. Tulsa DUI Guy will guide you on next steps and how to minimize the impact a DUI has on your life. Contact us for a free case evaluation.