You would certainly assume that the Coronavirus pandemic would have affected the number of people accused, driving under the influence, as well as the number arrested for DUI. With fewer people out and about town in bars and restaurants, you would expect a corresponding decrease in, for example, the number of those drinking and driving. And, in a general sense, this analysis is borne out in the number of drunk and drugged driving arrests, which are down statewide this year. But that’s not the whole story.
When the numbers from different areas are analyzed, some of the results that emerge might be expected, while others appear contradictory:
- Early on in the pandemic, DUI arrests across Arizona were down by about 33%, a significant decline under any analysis.
- By November 2020, the decline had been cut substantially, to between 10% and 15%.
- Mesa and Scottsdale DUI arrests in 2020, on the other hand, are virtually unchanged from last year.
- Arrests during the Fourth of July weekend and during the Labor Day weekend were both way down this year compared with last year. In fact, the Fourth of July numbers showed a decrease of more than 50%.
- DUI arrests in Gilbert are up by 31%.
- In Chandler, DUI arrests are also up from a year ago.
In place of bar hopping and other nightlife activities, there has apparently been an increase in smaller gatherings. This may explain some of the numbers. But some experts say the cause is substance abuse and addiction. As the pandemic and its daily effects and pressures increase over time, and as jobs are lost and financial problems worsen, addiction issues appear to grow. That would tend to explain, of course, why, at least overall, the number of DUI arrests are not plummeting. What it fails to explain is why the numbers vary so greatly from one city to another.
Our guess is that the difference in DUI arrests from municipality to municipality may have more to do with the level of enforcement between one area and other than to the amount of drinking and drugging, or even the amount of driving under the influence. We’ll take a look in future months to see if and how these numbers have changed over time.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004