Guest-written post, courtesy of The Tulsa DUI Guy
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all normalcy out the door and changed nearly everything about our society. While there have been significant and well-publicized impacts on things like food prices and work schedules, there are other ripple effects that have gone unnoticed.
One of the most overlooked – and negative – effects has been the significant increase in DUI fatalities during the Covid pandemic.
Expectations of a Decrease
By all rights, there should have been a massive drop in DUIs during the Covid pandemic. Most bars and restaurants were closed, and driving plummeted to historic lows, with the average number of daily car trips falling to half of their pre-pandemic levels.
In some states, this expectation became a reality. For example, Florida saw a 16 percent decrease in DUI accidents, a 33 percent decrease in DUI fatalities, and 50 percent decrease in DUI arrests in 2020. While some of the decrease can be attributed to reduced enforcement during the pandemic, that doesn’t explain the corresponding drop in fatalities.
More DUI Fatalities Despite Less Driving
Unfortunately, Florida is an outlier. When viewed nationally, DUI-related incidents have significantly increased since the onset of the Covid pandemic. Drunk-driving fatalities nationwide jumped by almost 9 percent in 2020 versus 2019. People were driving less, but there were more DUI fatalities.
The increase is unprecedented. Until Covid, drunk driving had consistently dropped year over year, and drunk-driving fatalities had decreased by nearly 50 percent per capita since 1982.
Traffic fatalities in the first half of 2021 were the highest they had been since 2006. This is the largest increase in the history of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Why is this Happening?
It isn’t well understood why there has been such a significant increase, but increased alcohol consumption may play a role. In some states, alcohol sales surged up to 35 percent during 2020. Lower utilization of ride-sharing, increases in speeding, lower seatbelt use, and an increase in reckless driving may also be factors.
What is the “New Normal?”
Covid-19 dramatically changed our society in many ways. The increase in drunk driving is an unexpected and unwelcome addition to the list. It remains to be seen whether our return to normalcy will reduce the number of alcohol-involved crashes to pre-pandemic levels.
The Tulsa DUI Guy is a law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma founded by attorney Sabah Khalaf that is hyper-focused on DUI defense, major crimes, expungements, and other criminal defense-related matters.