Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

So Fresno’s the drunkest city — who cares?


As you might have already heard, Fresno has topped another silly survey. This time we’ve been proclaimed “America’s Drunkest City,” an improvement from when we were No. 8 on the same list in 2007.

Of course, this has inspired the typical responses** we expect every time the survey-come-lately mentions Fresno: All the local news broadcasts were promo-ing it last night. Some Fresnans were using this latest survey to validate their ill will toward ol’ Ash Tree city. Some were celebrating it. And others realized it’s all a bunch of b.s.

Here’s the thing: This magazine only makes these lists so that all the news stations, newspapers and blogs will mention its name. (Notice that I haven’t here). If that’s not enough, here are three reasons why this study is totally watered down:

  1. One of the main factors was DUI arrests. As anybody here knows, Fresno PD is out in full force trying to nab DUI offenders. In fact, we’ve been profiled by USA Today as a model for the rest of the country. Really, it sounds like Fresno won the title of “City with the most DUI checkpoints.”

  1. Sometimes I think these researchers are drunk. Let’s just say that I don’t exactly trust their methodology. In 2005, this same magazine named us the 14th fittest city in the U.S., then turned around a few months later and ranked our eating habits 89th out of 101 cities, giving us an F. Make sense? Not really.
  2. Just think about it. Do you really think Boston is the least drunk city and we’re the most drunk? Does that really sound right? Or does it sound like some bizarro number crunching — like using non-fiction book sales to gauge how smart people are? No where does this study measure how much alcohol is purchased here. You think that should be a factor? Maybe?

Truth is, there’s a list like this every month. That should show you much work goes into them, how much validity they hold, and how much shelf-life they have.

[photo: Eric Paul Zamora / The Fresno Bee]

**I realize we’re often guilty of this too here on The Beehive, but this is us trying to not give the survey creators the attention they’re looking for.

Responses to "So Fresno’s the drunkest city — who cares?"

Kim Burly says:

Bravo, Mike! Immediately when I saw that one of the main criteria was DUI arrests made, I knew something was up. Glad you put this out there.

mdub420 says:

oh snap, i think you found Mr 559!!

is what you are saying is there are drunker cities than fresno or fresno shouldnt be ranked as the drunkest?

David Rubinow says:

You nailed it with the DUI checkpoints.

Mike Oz says:

I’m saying the “survey” isn’t to be trusted.

BurnFresno says:

You nailed it Mike. Was just about to write something similar. Lists like this are generally garbage and few are backed up by legitimate methods of deduction.

DB says:

It’s just another survey from somebody who really does’nt care to know the truth aobut our City. We’ve been targeted by hollywood and the media as a lame place to live. Who cares. I think we need to be a little more down for our City and not give a f%#% what these fools have to say. They’ll catch on when the time is right. It’s building. Their gonna flip flop, mark my words!

rick mirigian says:

I think this is a great award for us! I love it! I will find a way to use this in our favor…give me a week or so! PR…good or Bad gives us something to work with now we have to grab it and spin it and come out BIG…

Jason Farris says:

100% on point Mike!

Fresno having a high DUI arrest count is a good thing, they make it out to be bad :-/

Ryan says:

Being out here in Boston for school, it surprised me that the city was ranked as least drunk. The main thing that jumped out to me was the DUI arrests category. A good amount of people in Boston don’t own cars, and riding the T and taking cabs probably lowers the DUI arrests significantly.

Mike Oz says:

That’s a great point, Ryan. If you notice, New York City and San Francisco all ranked high on the list. All places with good public transit services. Thanks for exposing another flaw.

Chase Sanborn says:

Love it!

“Be Hurled Glass. Be Fresno.”

Bryan Harley says:

Joe Moore made the same point on Twitter. If you look at the drunkest cities, they all suffer from poor transit. Compound that with Fresno’s full force, model DUI program.

Lovin Fresno says:

With more than 100 colleges and universities in the Boston area, how could they be ranked the least drunk city? I agree Mike, this is Gorilla Marketing more than anything else for “that” magazine

Allison says:

Right on Mike. I totally agree with you.

Kristin says:

I would also like to throw into the mix the fact that it is, in fact, Michigan that has the highest bar to resident ratio.

Seriously though, we need to stop caring what others say about Fresno and just enjoy our proximity to natural wonders, our fabulous climate, and the many, many other great things that make our area a fun place to live.

Mike B says:

I agree with Mike Oz on this issue as the study should really be on who has the highest DUI rates in the US. Cities like Boston, NYC or SF, not only have public transportation, but also feature neighborhoods that have bars and restaurants. I would imagine that any place where there is no public transportation, a dearth of cabs, and shopping centers with bars would have a higher DUI rate. Also, you cannot rule out that isn the past ten years the fine for a DUI in Fresno, has raised signifigantly from $1005 to $1795. Coincidence that there is now more enforcement, face it, in Fresno DUI prevention is also a revenue source. What is sad is that through all the Checkpoints, undercover bar operations, and other measures, last years holidays set a record for arrests made.

Jankynola says:

This is just laughable. I have been to quite a few of the “least drunk” cities, and got very DRUNK while there. I can safely say I was not alone in my drunkeness. In other words, this list is so misleading with its title. I agree with you completely Mike! I mean, come on, us, Riverside and Bako are MORE drunk than Boston, SF and New York. Seriously? What kind of idiot reads this as truth?

rob says:

personally i like to think that there is a correlation between being named america’s drunkest city and america’s dumbest city but then again i don’t have that misplaced civic pride most commenters here seem blinded by.

you have to wonder why fresno makes these lists. ten years ago it would have been unheard of to hear fresno spoken on a national level. thanks to gangs, meth, gestapo police, political corruption, bubba and jerryd fresno is now nationally recognized for all the REAL reasons; sorry if they aren’t the RIGHT ones.

Reality sucks and it sucks more in Fresno than most other places; thanks to our wonderful civil planners we also, if you read yet another study, have the densest most concentrated pockets of poverty in the ENTIRE UNITED STATES. thats right. sin city won out over all the ‘jects on the east coast, south central la, and the 9th ward of nola just to name a few places. the poverty here, however, is so dense and segregated that the majority of fresnans have no clue as to how bad things really are; again, probably has something to do with the dumb thing.

not like we help ourselves though; i mean do the gang activities of juggalos make the news anywhere else in the united states outside of the central valley? you want to talk about poster children for fresno… can’t think of anything better than a juggalo flamed out in bulldog red with some gangster face paint to represent the majority mindset of fresno; throw an autographed copy of sarah palin’s book in his hands and you’re set

so lets see… we have really high concentrations of poverty which implies a lack of education leading to really high levels of dumb people the police are able to heard into checkpoints, one good thing about concentrating poverty is it makes it easier to contain(like those jewish ghettos back in the day), so they can rack up huge numbers of impounds/arrests allowing the police department to economically profile drivers under the guise of public safety leading to high numbers of “dui” arrests making us the drunkest city in america

now all the we aren’t drunk people in their little bubbles fail to realize that there is nothing in fresno for a 20-30 year old person to do socially that doesn’t involve drinking. how many events are dry here in fresno and of those how many are dry because they couldn’t get the necessary permits? not saying you have to drink but honestly, how many things happen in fresno where alcohol is not available? They aren’t called temperance thursdays you know.

And as far as cops and dui arrests go the ones in fresno are pretty quick to jump the gun. I, personally, have had my car pulled over on the side of the road in tower with completed impound paperwork already filled out on my windshield prior to me even blowing on a breathalyzer. I had two blow three times; on two different units because they thought they were broken because not only was i not drunk but i was so not drunk my breath didn’t even register. of course the FIRST words out of the officers mouth when i was pulled over was “so you like driving drunk, i can smell it on your breath, get out of the car” keep in mind i hadn’t broken any traffic rules… when pressed the officer said i ran a stop sign but had nothing to say about the two stop signs i stopped and used my signal at prior to her pulling me over after my drunk ass allegedly ran the first one. when all was said and done i finally blew a .01% was given a ticket for the stop sign; which i intended to fight, but was never filed with the court; still have the ticket in my wallet today. after experiencing that level of unprofessionalism and harassment i take cabs in tower on the weekends ALL the time.

Its encounters like the one i had above that put fresno number one on that list… as i’ve had cops say to me before you say po-tate-o i say po-tat-o

but yeah; if a fool and his money weren’t soon parted fresno would be an even worse place to live

Miro Spiro says:

Jerry Dyer for President! If he could get Margret Mims on board, she wouldn’t be closing jail hose floors and laying people off. I am suprized that the lure of all the neat looking dirt bikes didn’t do it. Nothing better then sitting on the patio at the El Box Room looking out to the parking lot and seeing those sqaud cars waiting for you. Like it a lot better then having plane cloths men inside. Just keep those grants coming. We are the drunkest & the safest?

AttyKendall says:

One way to get Fresno out of these bottom lists is to show it for what we are doing that’s progressive and noteworthy. One example is the City’s Bicycle Master Plan, and the work that’s being done on bicycle facilities by the City. As soon as we get people supporting this, and the work done, we can get nationwide recognition, and people won’t be so quick to make fun of us.
Help support cycling in Fresno by joining ibikefresno here:

bradley says:


Lucy Nava says:

I don’t believe it one bit! Let’s all have a drink and forget all this nonsense.


ed says:

you missed:

than (2x)

shame on you! (jk)

Lisi says:

I lived in Athens, OH where there are 24 bars in a square mile, only 20,000 folks live there most of whom are students and the University there is consistently rated in the top 10 party schools…no way Fresno is the drunkest city.

Mike Oz says:

+1 for common sense

Diablo says:

I wood like to thank all the little people that help me make my city da beyst, Sierra Nevada- you are numbehrr guone, Heinekin- you are numbehrr guone, Wodka-all of you-you are numbehrr guone, Gin-I love you-you are numbehrr guone, Rrum-Bacardi I’m lookink atchu-you are numbehrr guone. Thank you so much, besos.

Snake Plissken says:

Do I have to stop smoking crack and sniffing glue to be part of the drunkest?

Alex says:

Mike, I follow your blog pretty often. I think you have a good lens from which to gain a bit of perspective. That being said, I never comment on your posts. This marks my very first post. After reading your latest post I felt compelled to write and say this is your best. Well written, well thought out, and very much relevant. Good for you. Please keep fighting the good fight for Fresno, without your writing I’d have little to read in the Fresno Bee these days…

MF says:

Good stuff Mr. Oz!! Did you know Portland, OR has one of the highest suicide rates per capita in the country?? They also have a very high amount of coffee shops and BARS per capita as well. Where do they rank in all this? Oh.. and they also have an excellent transit system..

grandpa says:

You might be interested to know that the magazine articule made headline news on CBS KGMB Tv
Hawaii. Hawaii recieved an A-. Maybe Fresno people don’t visit here?

Mike Oz says:

Thank you, Alex. I really appreciate your comment.

eric field says:

I’m trying to figure out the logic in dismissing the data.

what I’m hearing:
-We’re (among) america’s drunkest cities (or topping the list)
-but the list isn’t to be trusted (because) of the fact that it’s based upon DUI arrests.

So, we’re not as bad as other cities, because they have a ton of drunks walking around (or riding on mass transit,)
–so they’re ‘worse than us.’ –because all their drunks are going uncounted, (which dismisses our (actual) drunks somehow.


What does that have to say (at all) about the amount of people who get behind the wheel here, (and get caught, and get arrested) while being under the influence?

Here’s the problem.
(and yeah, I couldn’t care less about how Fresno ranks among other cities… Lets just try to deal with our own issues, here, ‘k?
-not deflecting the issue and finding some sort of false justification,
‘…we’re not as bad as them, they’re reeeeallly bad, and they’re just not getting CAUGHT, it’s NO-FAIR…’
-god what a wuss response.

We get nailed for our DUI’s –but it’s the other people who are so much worse (who are not getting caught,) that we’re caught about.
(way to man-up.)

And then…
the DUI arrests
(which, okay… are these actual DUI ARRESTS for being DRUNK BEHIND THE WHEEL BASED UPON BLOOD ALCH. LEVELS? (valid)
or simply
‘stops and getting the car pulled for not having it properly registered/insured/license etc.)’
I guess we need to justify which bad thing we’re doing here that we’re trying to defend…

Are these ARRESTS dismissed as irrelevant because folks weren’t really drunk?
(No… It’s not the drunk driver’s fault,
It’s because there were ‘too many cops checking for drunks (darn cops, who do they think they are,)
–and because they went LOOKING for trouble… boy didn’t they find it.. (darn cops, shoulda left well enough alone.. so folks can drink and drive in peace…)

And then final reason why there are so many drunks on the road (that the cops have no business nabbing, because folks are peacefully minding their business, drivin’ drunk, not botherin’ nobody, –should go out and fight some real crime..)

Real reason we got so many DUI’s?

No mass transit so to speak of…
(that’s why people drink, and drink and drive?)

What I’m hearing:
-If we all had busses to ride,
-if the cops would just leave decent drunken citizens alone,
-oh yeah, and if we all had bicycles, (please, somebody be clear in Bike Fresno, drunken cycling is dangerous and ticketable as well, –whether you have Kendall as your attorney or not.)

IF all those things were TRUE:

-The fair citizens of ths town WOULDN’T WANT to get so sloshed just to endure living here?

-Fix all those issues?, and we’ll be the sobriety captial of the world, and a bunch of flying nuns walking around with pearly white grins a mile wide, –no need to drink?
(take the data however you want, it’s just ducky as punch here in F-no?),

and that flagrant stupidity and lack of caring for ones own, (and others) lives,
that PUT them BEHIND the WHEEL to begin with
—is just going to magically dissipate

-because we have a bus, less cops bothering us,
–and a freakin’ bicycle…?

Maybe it’s too early to be drunk for some of the shovellers of this,
–but are you just stoned?

Holly says:

Good point, Mike! I wish the news networks realized it is garbage. Why does everyone like to pick on Fresno so much?

Men's Fitness is the dumbest magazine ever! says:

Other media publication such as USAtoday, kmph, abclocal, and such have all written false information from Men’s Fitness. If you pull down the tab for most drunk city, you will find Denver Colorado to be on top, while Fresno is number 8. Thank you, now you may wanna retract your stories and apologize to the city that will get some R.e.s.p.e.c.t.

Mike Oz says:

I’ve seen this talked about elsewhere. I think what you see online right at the mag’s web site is last year’s list. The issue in question hasn’t printed yet, so I don’t think they’ve updated their Web site. We’ve been on the list in the past, FYI.

Gurpal Dosanjh says:

Seems like Fresno always gets the short end of the stick. Thank you for the analysis and well written response.

nspleen says:

Hey man, don’t kid yourself. Fresno is primarily hispanic.Fresno is boring. We (hispanics) like the “goodie” & an inexpensive good time. Everyone knows the police are looking for DUIs and yet we still drink & drive. We are either the stupidist city in America or the drunkest. And you’re surprised the Met didn’t work out.

@yagrrb says:

Of my 8 friends who live in NYC, 8 drink too much and zero own cars. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Great post!

Mashnar says:

Well put Mike. However IMHO, Fresno does warrant valid reasons for ending up on lists such as this. We did have a museum- that not many people liked to expand their horizons in (unless there were mechanical dinosaurs). We have movie theaters- that are bombarded by obnoxious, pierced up teenagers. Then we have plethoras of bars with people who like to drink. These bars are -generally speaking- not in proximity to people’s homes. I myself have been pulled over leaving a party on a pedal bike. It’s the people that live in this city that make it what it is. They spend $100 drinking assorted adult beverages at a bar all day, won’t spend $20 on a cab ride home because they can’t leave their car at the bar since they have to work the next morning, and instead spend $3000 in DUI charges and legal fees. Stay home on the weekdays, be productive at work. Have fun on the weekends and save $20 to get the cab ride home, hitch a ride the next day with a friend to pick up your car from the parking lot. You’ll earn more respect from your friends for doing so. The fundemental problem isn’t the way this city is portrayed, it’s the people that live in this city.

mdub420 says:

Number one two years in a row???