In-Depth Look at Top Reasons for Arrests in the U.S.

arrests in United States
By Ben Hartwig
15 July, 2019

Due to the diverse cultures that exist in the different regions of the United States, it can often be challenging to predict which crimes are the most common. Also, predicting which kind of arrest is the most common can be complicated. Recently, we gathered data regarding the different types of arrests each of the fifty states in the United States and identified which offenses were among the top two causes for arrests. What we found was a fascinating reflection of the current social issues America is facing today in both politics, legislation, and court hearings. 

Based on our study, the top most common offenses leading to arrests in the United States are Larceny/Theft, Drug Abuse Violations, Driving Under the Influence, Drunkenness, and Disorderly Conduct. In the coming years, with the legalization of Marijuana in many states, it will be fascinating to see whether these statistics, mainly related to Drug Abuse Violations, will shift dramatically. In addition, law enforcement officers have substantially cracked down on Driving Under the Influence regulations and have lowered the level of blood alcohol that is legal to drive a vehicle. What this shift means is that there is a potential for arrests involving drinking and driving to increase. 

arrests map

What Are the Top Reasons for Arrests Per State?

Drug Abuse Violations

The states that had their top arrest type as Drug Abuse Violations were: Arizona with 36,326 arrests, California with 215,806 arrests, Florida with 129,984 arrests, Georgia with 42,735 arrests, Idaho with 9,401 arrests, Illinois with 11,760 arrests, Indiana with 27,755 arrests, Kansas with 10,295 arrests, Kentucky with 26,930 arrests, Louisiana with 27,131 arrests, Maryland with 30,940 arrests, Michigan with 35,216 arrests, Mississippi with 10,553 arrests, Missouri with 42,245 arrests, Nebraska with 930 arrests, Nevada with 9,664 arrests, New Hampshire with 8,163 arrests, New Jersey with 65,524 arrests, New York with 73,248 arrests, Ohio with 38,995 arrests, Oklahoma with 21,304 arrests, Oregon with 17,478 arrests, Pennsylvania with 66,830 arrests, South Carolina with 34,356 arrests, South Dakota with 9,879 arrests, Tennessee with 50,417 arrests, Texas with 146,793 arrests, Utah with 19,252 arrests, Virginia with 44,277 arrests, West Virginia with 7,397 arrests, and Wyoming with 5,113 arrests. 

Driving Under the Influence

The states with their top arrest type as Driving Under the Influence were: Colorado with 23,903 arrests, Hawaii with 5,997 arrests, Maine with 5,874 arrests, North Carolina with 30,467 arrests, North Dakota with 6,355 arrests, Vermont with 2,468 arrests, and Washington with 25,559 arrests. 

Larceny/Theft

The states that had their top arrest type as Larceny/Theft were: Alabama with 14,890 arrests, Connecticut with 12,298 arrests, Delaware with 5,500 arrests, Iowa with 11,947 arrests, Massachusetts with 11,617 arrests, Minnesota with 26,758 arrests, Montana with 27,928 arrests, and New Mexico with 3,700 arrests.

Disorderly Conduct

The states that had their top arrest type as Disorderly Conduct were Rhode Island with 2,401 arrests and Wisconsin with 40,025 arrests. 

The Second Most Common Arrest Reasons in Each State

Driving Under the Influence

The states with Driving Under the Influence as their second most common reason for arrest were: Arizona with 24,195 arrests, California with 123,416 arrests, Idaho with 5,506 arrests, Kansas with 5,504 arrests, Michigan with 26,758 arrests, Montana with 4,388 arrests, Nebraska with 804 arrests, Nevada with 9,520 arrests, New Hampshire with 4,841, New Mexico with 3,308 arrests, South Dakota with 8,252 arrests, West Virginia with 4,298 arrests, and Wyoming with 3,281 arrests. 

Drug Abuse Violations

The states with Drug Abuse Violations as their second most common reason for arrests were: Alabama with 11,463 arrests, Delaware with 4,350 arrests, Iowa with 10,547 arrests, Massachusetts with 10,006 arrests, Minnesota with 21, 174 arrests, North Dakota with 6,122 arrests, Rhode Island with 1,903 arrests, and Wisconsin with 33,994 arrests. 

Larceny/Theft

The states with Larceny/Theft as their second most common reason for arrests were: Colorado with 24,872 arrests, Florida with 75,114 arrests, Georgia with 29,094 arrests, Hawaii with 3,359 arrests, Illinois with 8,683 arrests, Indiana with 15,933 arrests, Kentucky with 14,182 arrests, Louisiana with 25,327 arrests, Maine with 5,279 arrests, Maryland with 18,176 arrests, Mississippi with 7,634 arrests, Missouri with 27,928 arrests, New Jersey with 22,367 arrests, New York with 40,104 arrests, North Carolina with 28,648 arrests, Ohio with 31,084 arrests, Oregon with 15,604 arrests, Pennsylvania with 45,904 arrests, South Carolina with 21,776 arrests, Tennessee with 32,669 arrests, Texas with 71,531 arrests, Utah with 15,150 arrests, Vermont with 1,464 arrests, Virginia with 25,524 arrests, and Washington with 22,512 arrests. 

Disorderly Conduct

The state with Disorderly Conduct as its second most common reason for arrests was Connecticut with 11,985 arrests.

Drunkenness

The state with Drunkenness as its second most common reason for arrests was Oklahoma with 13,010 arrests. 

common arrests

Did You Know?

  • Nebraska has some of the lowest White-Collar Crime-related arrests in the United States with only 68 arrests in total. 
  • The states that had Driving Under the Influence as their top type of the arrest or second most common type of arrest were all rural states lacking America’s largest cities with established mass transportation networks. 
  • Oklahoma was the only state that had Drunkenness as one of their top two types of arrests. 
  • 31 states had Drug Abuse Violations as their top arrest type, whereas only 7 states had Driving Under the Influence as their top arrest type. 
  • 13 states had Driving Under the Influence as their second most common arrest type and only 8 states that had Drug Abuse Violations as their second most common arrest type. 
  • There were only three states that had Disorderly Conduct as their top first and second types of the arrest. Rhode Island and Wisconsin had Disorderly Conduct as their top kind of arrest and Connecticut had Disorderly Conduct as its second most common type of arrest. 
  • In 8 states, Larceny was the top kind of arrest, and in 25 states, Larceny was the second most common arrest type. 
  • The highest White-Collar arrests were in states with large financial institutions and multinational corporations. 
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