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The Rise and Fall of DUIs During COVID-19

by | Apr 21, 2021 | DUI

DUI sign

When the pandemic first hit and everyone learned how to shelter in place, DUI arrests plummeted. But they didn’t stay that way.

From January 1 through April 30, 2020, DUIs dropped by nearly 42% compared to the same time period in 2019. People didn’t stop drinking, they just stopped drinking at bars and restaurants.

The state hasn’t released data on how 2020 compares to 2019, but we have clues.

On New Year’s Eve, 2020/2021, California Highway Patrol officers arrested 244 individuals in six hours. In 2019/2020, CHP arrested 491 people over 30 hours. The agency also reported 13 people died—four times more than the prior year.

Over Christmas, CHP arrested 318 people. During Fourth of July weekend, they arrested 738 drivers suspected of DUI. Over Thanksgiving, they arrested over 300 individuals.

Reports from other states report similar results. During periods of lighter restrictions, DUIs increased. Over Christmas the Bay Area was under tight restrictions (again), but more people may have turned to alcohol to ease the pandemic holiday blues.

A study published in December 2020 surveyed more than 800 people in May 2020 about their alcohol use. The study authors found respondents who reported more COVID-19-related stress said they drank more alcoholic beverages and on more days than those with less stress. About 60% overall said they were drinking more; 13% were drinking less.

Why You Don’t Want a DUI

CHP and local police officers want to put the brakes on impaired driving. DUI checkpoints have resumed. You’ll also find CHP officers patrolling the roadways to deter DUI violators and arrest those who do drive under the influence.

Before you meet your friends at the beer garden on Saturday afternoon, make a plan to get home safely. Designate a sober driver, plan to get an Uber or Lyft, take public transit or call someone to pick you up.

If you don’t, and you get caught, you’ll face fines and fees totaling around $13,000. You’ll face jail time and you’ll get your driver’s license revoked. If you need to drive to get to work, you’ll have to apply for an ignition interlock device (car breathalyzer) or a restricted license. And that DUI will stay on your driving record for 10 years and on your criminal record forever.

If you end up in an accident with a suspected impaired driver, get medical attention right away. As soon as you’re ready, call our office for a free consultation.