Two recent reports from two very different parts of the country may indicate that thanks to rideshare platforms such as Uber and Lyft, DUI arrest rates may be dropping. But a University of Pennsylvania study found that while there is a correlation between using rideshare services and a decline in DUI rates, it really depends on the area or city itself.
Los Angeles Data
The rideshare platform Uber arrived in Los Angeles County in 2012, and by 2017 DUI arrests had dropped by thirty-two percent. California legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, so there was also a slight uptick in DUI arrests in that year and in 2019, but overall, DUI arrests are still thirty percent below what they had been in 2010.
Sergeant David Jennings of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department commented, “There's no reason why anyone should get a DUI. Anyone who is drinking should partake in those services.” The L.A. Sheriff's Department arrested about 25,000 people for DUIs over the last ten years, which averages out to six people a day.
A spokesperson for Uber said that requests for rides often peak on Friday and Saturday nights. West Hollywood, which is known for its nightlife, saw the biggest decline in DUI arrests in the last ten years (almost thirty-four percent).
Rapid City Data
In South Dakota, a state not known for its nightlife and which is less densely populated than Los Angeles County, has also seen a decrease in the number of DUI arrests made. In 2019, 723 DUI arrests were made in Rapid City, which was down from 1,000 arrests in 2017. Uber and Lyft were introduced to Rapid City in late 2017 and early 2018.
Deputy Anthony White with the Pennington County Sheriff's Department said, “Over the last three years I have noticed a very steep decline in the number of people who are driving impaired and I have seen a very steep incline in the amount of Lyft and Uber cars I see waiting outside of bars waiting to take people home.”
University of Pennsylvania Study
Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania published a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. According to their research, there are several factors that play into whether rideshare companies play a role in fewer DUI incidents. One of the lead authors said, “For example, in a denser urban center with congested traffic and limited parking a person may be more likely to use a ride-sharing service to get around."
The report also said that rideshare drivers are more likely to be involved in auto accidents thanks to distracted driving (either by constantly checking the company's app, navigating directions in unfamiliar places, or chatting with passengers). Researchers said, “Future research should examine whether such risks obtain for individual rideshare drivers and whether any increase in distracted-driver crashes due to ridesharing is sufficient to wholly offset any reduction in alcohol-involved crashes.”
DUI Defense Attorney
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