The coronavirus pandemic kept much of New Jersey from commuting to and from work, and from attending social gatherings. Yet the number of drunk-driving fatalities increased significantly in 2020 compared to 2019, according to national data.

A new analysis of this data, though, suggests that New Jersey was one of the states with the "least drunk driving" in 2020.

"New Jersey's actually one of the best by far. New Jersey has done really well two years in a row," said Leo Waldenback, co-founder of Zutobi, an online education resource for drivers.

Zutobi's DUI report ranks New Jersey fourth best among the states, based on a number of key measures such as DUI arrests and DUI fatalities.


For every 100,000 drivers, New Jersey recorded about 230 DUI arrests in 2020, according to the report. That number tops 300 in many states, and is higher than 900 in South Dakota.

According to the report, 25% of all New Jersey road fatalities in 2020 were the product of drunk driving. The rate was 30% nationally. There were 2.4 DUI road fatalities in New Jersey per 100,000 drivers. Only New York, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia recorded lower rates.


Still, 151 individuals lost their lives in New Jersey because of drunk driving in 2020, according to the report. That figure represents a 17.1% jump from 2019. The national tally jumped 15% year over year.

"I thought all road fatalities would go down in 2020, that drunk driving would go down, that distracted driving would go down. But we've seen quite the opposite," Waldenback said.

New Jersey in 2020 saw a rise in fatal motor vehicle crashes — 549 fatal wrecks that resulted in 587 lives lost, according to New Jersey State Police data. The numbers were even higher in 2021.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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