"Drive By" peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's third top 10 hit in the US. It was awarded a double platinum certification by the RIAA on July 23, 2012, for more than 2 million sales in the US. Internationally, the song became a top ten hit in 13 countries. Train performed the song on television series 90210 in the episode "Blood Is Thicker Than Mud", which aired on March 13, 2012. Train also performed a parody entitled "Five By" with Elmo and Count von Count for an episode of Sesame Street.
"Drive By" is a pop rock song. The instrumentation consists of "buoyant acoustic riffs and a hook-laden melody". Lead singer Patrick Monahan sings in a characteristic "sing-talk vocal croon".
Billboard gave the song a positive review stating:
If at first you succeed -- why not try again? For the first single from its forthcoming "California 37," Train returns to the Espionage, the Norwegian songwriting and production duo of Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund that helped the group put together its 2010 comeback smash "Hey Soul Sister." "Drive By" starts with a staccato guitar strum and a percussive thump that certainly recalls its predecessor, with a slight ethnic flavor that makes it recall a Bar Mitzvah reception. Frontman Pat Monahan semi-speaks the [verses] in tuneful, rap-like cadence, then turns to smooth pop singing for the choruses. The lyric, however, is a bit darker, with Monahan's protagonist trying to convince a one-night-stand that he really wants to "get down to the more-than-friends" at last. We bet she's heard that from all the pop singers, but Monahan pleads with enough joyful exuberance that she -- and we -- might just buy it.
The single has proved to be a worldwide success primarily in the band's home country where it has been certified double platinum and was the 19th most successful song on the Hot 100 chart. In the UK, "Drive By" sold 502,700 copies and was the 23rd best selling single of 2012. It reached #6 in the UK, making it their biggest hit there since "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" in 2001.
The music video was posted on YouTube on February 15, 2012, and was directed by Alan Ferguson. 
Monahan is on the phone with his former girlfriend (Linda Taylor). She scolds him and says that he was the one who left, and tells him she has to get to work before hanging up. Monahan goes to the garage and gets into his blue 1967 Pontiac Firebird. He drives through parts of San Francisco. At an intersection, he is joined by Stafford, who drives a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, and Underwood, who drives a red Ford Mustang. Then the scene shifts to Monahan, Underwood and Stafford performing together under a tree, and Monahan explains how he met his former girlfriend: she works as the tour guide at the winery that Monahan visited. They participated in a three-legged race, crushed grapes and tasted some wine. However, their relationship is merely a one-night stand, as Monahan, after waking up in bed next to her, leaves before she wakes up.
Back to the present, the band arrives at a classic car meeting. Later he leads the whole fleet of classic cars to the same winery where he met his girlfriend. She is on the balcony giving some guests a tour. She sees a procession of cars that are driving up to the winery. The procession is led by Monahan, who stops his car at the front entrance. He gets out and sings the chorus verse of the song "Oh I swear to you, I'll be there for you, this is not a drive-by", and eventually reconciles with her. The final scene shows the two driving in the Firebird while laughing and joking together.
Although the video initially received relatively little attention, taking 18 days to reach 1 million views , it grew viral over the course of the year, accumulating over 50 million views by the end of August 2012. .