Something has happened regarding drunk driving in South Florida and everyone is scratching their heads trying to figure out why. It’s not bad news, in fact, it’s the quite the opposite. DUI arrests have dropped dramatically in and around the City of Miami as well as in Miami-Dade County since 2014. Only 594 people were arrested in Miami-Dade county’s jurisdiction in 2017, down from an average of 1,500 two years previously.
In Miami itself, the decline has not been quite so spectacular, but still very significant and large enough to indicate that it is not just a coincidence. The number of arrests has leveled off at around 320 the last two years after a 31% drop from a few years ago.
It’s not as if Miami’s bars and nightclubs are any less busy. South Florida residents seem to be drinking just as much as they ever have, so what’s the secret behind the drop in DUI arrests?
The most plausible answer is that there are several factors at play and they have converged to make the region’s streets just that much safer, as well as giving a bit of relief to Miami’s hard pressed police force.
Better public transport has been ruled out. The City of Miami and the surrounding county is not renowned for its fantastic public transit system and there has been no significant improvement in it over the period that might plausibly explain why arrests have dropped.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Director, David Pinker, thinks that it comes down to a mix of better public education about the dangers of drinking and driving, tougher law enforcement, changing attitudes to driving amongst younger people and, perhaps, more than anything, the spectacular rise in ride-sharing.
So can the drop in the number of arrests and the social and financial damage that drink driving can lead to be due to the existence of Uber and Lyft? It’s hard to know, it seems. There is no hard and fast data available to say whether the uptake of ride-sharing is definitely linked to less drink driving. Most of the evidence so far is anecdotal.
There have been similar drops elsewhere in the U.S. and these have happened at the same time as there has been an increase in the use of Uber and Lyft. In three out of four cities studied by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania, a drop in DUI arrests occurred at the same time as ride-sharing was introduced, with the number of DUI arrests increasing and decreasing as the ride-sharing service stopped and started.
Only one of the four cities, Reno, in Nevada, didn’t follow the trend. Researchers speculated that this might have been because many of Reno’s drinkers were visitors who used taxis and public transport anyway more than residents.
Another possibility is that the emerging generation of party and bar goers is less enthused about driving, anyway. With their ready familiarity with ride-sharing apps and mobile technology in general they may not even be thinking about driving back after a drinking session in their own cars bur they are using Uber and Lyft instead. Some millenials have even been reported as not bothering to buy a car, even when they have a drivers license.
One young woman said that many of her friends found sharing an Uber ride at $5 each was way cheaper than using public transport, even if it was available, or a car and a lot easier and safer. MADD has apparently been working with Uber over the last two years to get out the message in and around Miami that ride-sharing is a sensible alternative to driving back home after a booze session.
Miami police have said that they have upped the enforcement on drunk driving and together with public education programs, like those used by MADD and the ride in ride-sharing and attitudinal changes, their work has become easier.
A drop in DUI is something to be celebrated, but it hasn’t disappeared. You could still get arrested for DUI when driving home at any time of the day. Not all Dui arrests are justified. DUI testing has been controversial and often inaccurate for years. Although the best advice to any Miami resident is to avoid drinking and driving, if you are arrested for DUI, you will need an experienced and effective attorney to represent your legal interests. Call Miami criminal defense and DUI attorney, Albert Quirantes at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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