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Does Uber Really Reduce DUI Rates?

HSF Trial Attorneys > DUI  > Does Uber Really Reduce DUI Rates?

Does Uber Really Reduce DUI Rates?


Reports of Uber having a hand in reducing DUI arrests across the country have been all over the media over the past couple of years. Depending on who you ask, Uber’s impact is real, or it’s just coincidental.

While it makes sense on the surface, that ridesharing would decrease drunk driving, the data has been spotty at best. However, a new study recently released does show a direct connection between the entry of Uber in a local area, and the decline of fatal accidents, DUIs and other criminal activity.

As Atlanta DUI lawyers, we love investigating new ways drunk driving can be curbed. This new study seems to indicate ridesharing is one of the best ways to do so. Before we dive into the new study, though, let’s look at the older data that led us to this point.

A Look at the Older Studies

In 2015, a study was released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Uber. The study reported that ridesharing has an impact on reducing the rate of DUIs because it offers an alternative to people driving themselves home after having consumed alcohol. Uber ride requests tend to rise around bar closing. This is a fact. What is not a fact is that Uber has had any impact on DUIs in Georgia or elsewhere.

The report goes on to state that thank to Uber, 1,800 crashes had been prevented since the summer of 2012. How can that be proven? The short answer is that it can’t be. It does stand to reason that someone may choose Uber instead of driving home after a night on the town, but it also stands to reason that an equal number of people won’t choose Uber simply because they don’t want to spend the money for a ride.

The CDC reports that there has been a dip in drunk driving related fatalities across the nation. While Uber has taken off in the past few years, the decline in DUI fatalities has taken place in the years before Uber was available.

To credit the ridesharing program with the decline in fatalities would be presumptive at best — or would it?

What the New Study Shows

A more recent study, titled “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime,” shows a different picture of the impact of Uber on DUIs. In this study, the authors investigated county-level data from 2007 to 2015, specifically looking at the change in fatal accidents and crime once Uber was introduced to the area.

In short, the study found that Uber did, in fact, lower DUI rates and fatal accidents. Interestingly, the study also showed Uber led to a decline in arrests for disorderly conduct and assault.

However, the authors do point out that the evidence pointing to a decline in DUIs after Uber is introduced is weak. That evidence, however, shows that DUI arrests drop for at least the first three years after the ridesharing option is available. Moreover, there is a steady decline in disorderly conduct arrests every month after Uber is introduced.

There could be a few reasons for this. Most likely, when ridesharing isn’t an option, people who have been drinking may have to rely on public transportation to get home. Being loud and belligerent on buses and trains can quickly lead to a disorderly conduct arrest. Taking an Uber, on the other hand, greatly reduces the risk of being arrested for this crime.

Looking Beyond DUIs

According to this study, the connection between DUIs and the introduction of Uber is weak and/or statistically insignificant. This may be due to a variety of factors, whether people choose to not drive drunk anyway or police aren’t as vigilant as they should be for drunk drivers.

But what the study definitively shows is Uber’s effects on fatal accidents. Projections show that, up to three years after Uber is introduced, fatal crashes drop over 2 percent. In fact, within the first year Uber is introduced, fatal crashes drop over 3 percent. When people who are inebriated or otherwise shouldn’t be driving have another option to get home, they are less likely to get behind the wheel.

So, Does Uber Affect DUI Rates?

In short: not really. As with other studies, this study shows a weak connection at best between DUI rates and the introduction of Uber. The sad fact is that, if people want to drive home drunk, they’re going to do it, no matter what other options are available to them. Why? One of the most common reasons is a sense of false confidence.

Some people simply don’t feel drunk when they’ve had a lot to drink. They may feel sober, or at least sober enough to drive, even if they’re at the legal alcohol limit. In some cases, a person may have successfully driven drunk before, and now believe they are a great driver when they’re inebriated.

The fact of the matter is, alcohol dulls your senses and reaction times, no matter how sober you may feel. The YouTube channel Try Guys recently did a test to prove driving drunk is very dangerous, even for people who don’t feel drunk (Warning: this video contains language you may find offensive, but it is highly educational):

Just because you’ve successfully driven drunk before, doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for a DUI. Nor does it mean “alcohol doesn’t affect you like it does other people.” It means you got lucky once — and luck will always run out.

What’s the solution? Easy: Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking! Call an Uber, call a friend, hop on MARTA or find some other way to get home safely. Don’t put your life and the lives of others at risk.

How an Atlanta DUI Lawyer Can Help You

If you are arrested for drunk driving, you have legal options. The Atlanta DUI lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo are ready to help. Give us a call or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. Don’t delay; your freedom is at stake.