It has been one full year since the privatization of liquor sales in Washington. The Washington State Police are taking this time to compare DUI data of the past year to the previous year when the government was still in control of selling liquor.
Many in the police force expected a huge increase in DUI cases now that hard liquor is more widely available. The numbers were surprising. The number of DUI arrests made actually decreased this past year from 21,577 in 2011-2012 to 19,703 in 2012-2013.
Police are not attributing the decrease to anything in particular, especially not privatized liquor sales. Jason Mercier with Washington Policy Center who compiled the data had this to say about the results:
"Privatization didn't improve the numbers necessarily but it didn't make it any worse either." Mercier adds, "I don't think you can draw a correlation that because of private sales now we have fewer alcohol related arrests."
Perhaps this shows that people can be trusted to make their own decisions.. It seems like the police are quick to say that how liquor is sold does not affect the DUI rate, but if the rate had increased law enforcement would probably have been quick to blame it on privatized liquor sales.
The numbers do not account for the number of DUI arrests that resulted from drug intoxication either. There could have been a steep drop in alcohol related DUIs but police managed to make more drug DUI arrests so the numbers are still fairly similar.
The only real way to gauge the effects of privatization is to look at DUI accidents. The number of DUI related crashes remainder stable for three years prior to privatization. The number of accidents for 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 were 2,584, 2,586 and 2,576, respectively. The number of crashes in 2012-2013 was 2,347. While this is not a significant drop it is more of a reduction than was seen in years prior.