In Missouri, driving under the influence (DUI) is also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI).…
By Author Michelle White
There is no doubt about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had (and is still having) on our world today.
More than two million people worldwide have already died due to the coronavirus. The global economy is in trouble, with businesses shutting down and individuals losing their sources of livelihood left and right.
Wherever you look, the pandemic has done nothing but adversely impact every aspect of our lives.
However, even with the darkest of clouds, there is always a silver lining.
As devastating as COVID-19 is proving to be, the global disruption in industries such as travel, transportation, and manufacturing that pandemic-related restrictions are causing is indirectly positively impacting the environment.
With fewer people on the road because of restrictions, is it possible that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting DUI alcohol cases in a positive way, too? Let’s take a look at what’s happening in some parts of the country in this regard.
According to data from the Missouri Highway Patrol, there is a drop in the average number of drug- and alcohol-related crashes from January to June.
While the average for that period from 2016 through 2019 sits at over 100 deaths and 1,700 injuries in crashes statewide, only 69 deaths and 937 injuries were recorded for 2020.
From March to May 2020—the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic—there were only 664 impaired driving cases in all of Oregon, a nearly 13% drop from the 760 recorded for the same period in 2019.
Arizona may have some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, but that didn’t stop more than 7,500 people from getting apprehended for drunk driving from January to mid-April 2019.
For the same period in 2020, that figure has dropped to a little over 5,000.
According to the California Highway Patrol, there was a significant reduction in the number of DUI arrests in March and April 2020.
In March and April 2019, California authorities made 7,224 DUI arrests. That figure fell by nearly 42% for the same time span in 2020, with only 4,223 DUI arrests made.
Drop in DUI Cases Is Not Universal
Encouraging as the decrease in DUI incidents in the places mentioned above is, not all areas are as fortunate. In fact, many of them registered a spike in the number of drunk driving arrests.
Morgan County in Alabama, for example, reported a nearly 54% increase in DUI arrests. From January to September 2020, there were 66 arrests, a significant increase from the 43 DUI arrests made for the same period in 2019.
The Colorado State Patrol also declared that there were twice the number of impairment-related deaths in the state during the first part of 2020 than there were in the same period in 2019.
There is also a report from some counties in Florida about a 21% increase in the number of DUI arrests.
DUI Cases Persist Despite Pandemic
It’s easy to look at reports of fewer DUI arrests and crashes at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as another positive effect of the coronavirus.
However, the fact that many areas still saw an increase in DUI rates despite the pandemic makes COVID-19’s overall and long-term impact on drunk driving a bit uncertain.
Still, it would be fair to recognize that lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and the closure of bars and pubs across the country did play a role in the reduction of drunk driving incidents during the early days of the pandemic.
Then again, many parts of the country are already lifting lockdowns and opening bars, pubs, and restaurants. Add that to the fact that online alcohol sales are surging amid the pandemic, and the likelihood that DUI cases will rise once again is high.
DUI Arrests In The Time of COVID
With authorities not missing a beat about actively enforcing DUI laws, refraining from drinking and driving is the smartest thing a person can do, especially when a global pandemic is still ruining people’s lives everywhere.
Consider this: a DUI arrest pre-pandemic was bad enough. If you’re arrested for driving under the influence, you will have to deal with litigation costs and fees, which could burn a hole in your pocket.
If convicted, you will have to fork out more money to pay for fines, lose your driving privileges, and probably spend some time behind bars.
Now imagine if you were arrested and convicted for a DUI at the height of a global pandemic.
U.S. jails do implement COVID-19 safety measures, but spending time there in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic still puts you at greater risk.
Having an experienced DUI lawyer on your side increases your chances of avoiding jail time. However, avoiding drinking and driving altogether remains your best chance of not getting into that situation, with or without