According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is responsible for approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities on our nation’s roads. In recent years, around 10,500 people lose their lives due to a traffic fatality involving a drunk driver. This does not even take into account fatalities that result from a driver under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. Driving under the influence is a persistent problem and a pandemic can’t stop it. In fact, the problem seems to have gotten worse during our bleak year of Covid-19.
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently took a look at the DUI arrests and fatalities related to drunk driving statistics across the states during the Covid-19 pandemic. Noting that while alcohol sales during the pandemic increased, some states, including California, seemed to experience a decrease DUI arrests and alcohol related traffic fatalities. Perhaps, it was conjectured, the decrease was due to strict stay-at-home orders in California. Not so fast: It appears to have been short-lived.
During the early months of the pandemic – March, April and May— CHP traffic reported a steep decline of 42% in DUI arrests decreased as compared to the same period in 2019. However, by July, DUI arrests spiked and eclipsed the numbers seen in 2019. The July 4th holiday saw a large increase in DUI arrests when compared to the same period in 2019: 738 drivers were arrested for DUI between July 3 to July 5 in 2020 compared to 589 for the same period in 2019. Month-to-month from July to October saw an over 40% increase in DUI arrests over the same period in 2019.
The trend continued into the fall and winter. During the 2020 Christmas holiday weekend, the CHP reported double the DUI arrests compared to the same period in 2019, while the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holiday periods saw slightly greater numbers of drivers arrested for DUI as compared to 2019. (The Christmas increase can be partially explained by the fact that the holiday was over the weekend in 2020 and was a four day enforcement period versus three days in 2019.)
While the headlines in the early days of the Covid-19 saw a silver lining in the pandemic—less traffic on the roads and fewer DUIs, it didn’t last long. When all the statistics are gathered, we will probably learn that in the 2020 year of Covid, there were more DUI arrests and likely more DUI-related fatalities than in the previous year. This seems contrary to what we would expect since the bars have been closed most of the year and many Californians have been following the stay-at-home protocols.
No doubt the pundits will try to make sense of this. But perhaps the likeliest explanation will turn out to be increase alcohol consumption during 2020. Emerging studies that suggest alcohol consumption has increased significantly during the pandemic. It has also been reported that alcohol sales have increased substantially during this time. If this increase in drinking is not confined to home consumption, then it would stand to reason that more people are drinking and getting on the road under the influence.
We have had a sad year, too bad it is compounded by increase DUI arrests and, as we are likely to learn, increased DUI traffic fatalities. The best way to avoid a DUI is to not drive under the influence. But if you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it is the job of Orange County DUI defense attorney William Weinberg to fight for you. His goal is always to get the best possible outcome for his DUI clients.
Attorney Weinberg is available for a complimentary consultation. He will review the particulars of your DUI arrest and prosecution and advise you on your options. You may contact him at his Irvine office by calling 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.