Do Rideshare Services Reduce Drunk Driving Convictions?

Posted on: June 28, 2021

Get a ride home. Call a cab or rideshare. The public hears this time and time again from authorities and other stakeholders who want to keep impaired drivers off the roads. Drunk drivers can cause fatal car accidents and ruin lives. Alcohol is involved with at least one driver in one of every three accidents on the road and is more likely to produce severe injuries. Instead of getting behind the wheel, having a designated driver or another way to get home is usually a much safer option and avoids the risk of getting arrested for a DUI or DWI.

Over the past five years, ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have transformed the transportation industry. Gone are the days of seeing taxis dominate cities like New York. Instead, regular citizens drive around strangers in their own cars for less money, with shorter wait times, and follow their GPS-based driver phone apps to take the quickest route from point A to point B. There is no need to stand outside in the rain or cold to try to hail a cab, which might not stop, when an app does all the work and eliminates the guessing game.

Cities are usually where ridesharing options are most popular. Not everyone has a car, so getting around can be a challenge. Those who do know they can make some money, so they will work when available. These services are very popular on the weekends and late nights when people go to bars, concerts, and other nightlife options, which are usually found in densely urban areas. Not all areas enjoy 24-hour public transportation, and even then, wait times can be long after midnight or not the safest option. Urban residents have made Uber and Lyft into multi-billion dollar powerhouses and confirmed the hypotheses of the companies’ founders. The companies, in turn, have gotten more involved with helping residents, including free rides to polling places and locations offering Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations.

A recent study found that the ridesharing options are reducing the amount of drunk driving accidents and convictions. In Houston, one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, these convictions are down 24 percent from 2014, the year rideshare companies began serving the city, to 2019. Likewise, personal injury from motor vehicle accidents dropped by nearly a quarter in the same timeframe. This comes with an increase of cars on the road, attributed to the success of rideshare companies. Among the most at-risk demographic for DUIs and motor vehicle accidents, drivers under 30, the number of injuries linked to drunk driving accidents dropped by almost 39 percent. The study of Houston also shows the reduction of car accidents and convictions happening in the most densely populated area, inside the city’s Interstate 610 loop. Arrests and convictions for drunk driving dropped the most on Fridays and Saturdays, the two days most associated with people going out and drinking.

Houston is different from most American cities, as it is spread out over large tracts of land. Older cities such as New York have also seen a decrease in drunk driving accidents since ridesharing services were introduced. In the four connected boroughs, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, injuries caused by alcohol-involved motor vehicle accidents dropped 25 to 35 percent from 2012, when Uber and Lyft arrived in the city, to 2017. New York City has more people than Houston in a denser area with a traditional grid. However, many residents do not own cars, especially in Manhattan, thus making rideshare services more popular to use for the variety of restaurants, theater, and nightlife options that make New York so appealing.

Nationwide, ridesharing services can be considered a factor in an overall reduction in deaths linked to drunk driving. In 2012, over 21.3 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents had a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of .08. In 2017, as ridesharing became more available, that percentage dropped below 19.8 percent, despite almost 7,000 more drivers involved in fatal car accidents. Of that number, the most at-risk demographic, drivers 21 to 24 years old, saw their share of involvement in these accidents drop from 32 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2017.

The study released earlier this month is the first major research directly correlating rideshare services to a reduction of drunk driving convictions and injuries. Prior findings could not find compelling evidence that credited rideshare companies with reducing the occurrence of drunk driving. DUIs have increased over the years since the federal government instituted the lower threshold of .08 BAC, unifying the policy over all 50 states. Researchers involved with the most recent study support the conclusion that rideshare options are helping keep people safe and reducing the instance of drunk driving.

Although the research shows progress and rewards the faith of many, it also shows that more work can be done. Ridesharing options are easily accessible in bigger cities but are harder to use in rural areas, which often see more DUI arrests per capita than urban counties. It can be difficult to convince people to spend money to get home safely following the costs associated with a night out. Also, those who live far away from venues may be hesitant to leave a car overnight in a parking lot or garage, especially when it takes more than a few blocks of walking to collect the vehicle the next day.

Suburban night owls have seen patrons getting pulled over in parking lots or right after leaving bars and restaurants. However, there is still that hesitation to call an Uber that may take longer to get there and cost more than two rounds of drinks or an entree just to get home. Less densely populated areas likely have fewer operating rideshare vehicles, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when people want to relax after the work week. There is also a stigma in some places associated with doing anything practiced in cities. In some smaller towns, people just choose to stay at home and drink. As restaurants and bars reopen following the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, it might be worth considering a way to subsidize the costs and availability of ridesharing options, offering patrons an easier and more affordable way to get home safely.

Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Will Help You Through Your Accident Case

Even when being careful and making plans, sometimes things go wrong on the road. If you are injured from a drunk driver or are involved in another type of car accident, the right representation can make all the difference. The Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova have the experience to handle your claim and will fight to get you all the care and compensation you deserve. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.