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The number of DUI deaths has increased here in recent years, according to a new report that ranks Lakeland as second in drunken-driving fatalities among Florida’s larger cities.

With 19 DUI deaths between 2015 and 2017, Lakeland saw 6.5 deaths a year per 100,000 residents, according to a report compiled by the financial site ValuePenguin, an affiliate of Lending Tree, based on figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Looking at all 135 Florida cities in the report — not just the largest ones — Lakeland ranks 11th per capita. (See table below.)

One troublesome distinction: Lakeland marked a 171 percent increase in the number of DUI deaths between 2012-2014 and 2015-2017, the highest jump in the state, the report said.

Among Florida’s 67 counties, Polk ranked 27th with a per capita count of 5.65 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents, according to the report.


  1. Destin, 13.54
  2. Atlantic Beach, 13.17
  3. Sebring, 12.71
  4. Sarasota, 12.20
  5. Yulee, 8.70
  6. Gulfport, 8.31
  7. Palmetto, 7.93
  8. Cocoa, 7.78
  9. Tavares, 7.17
  10. Key West, 6.76
  11. Lakeland, 6.50
  12. Stuart, 6.41
  13. Key Largo, 6.39
  14. New Smyrna Beach, 5.94
  15. Fernandina Beach, 5.80

Statewide, the number of DUI deaths declined 6 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to the report. The biggest declines in Florida’s largest cities were in Fort Myers, Largo,  Plantation, Daytona Beach and Port Orange.

LkldNow asked the Lakeland Police Department on Monday evening for comments, including the chance to present contradictory data or to talk about any efforts to reduce DUIs. Spokesman Gary Gross said on Tuesday he’s waiting for someone to validate the numbers. We’ll update this article or follow up with a new one when we get more information from LPD.

photo credit: appleswitch Police Car Lights via photopin (license)


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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