Will DUI Become a Relic of the Past?
Will DUI Become a Relic of the Past? There has been a debate since the start of the ride share economy, with services such as Uber, or Lyft, as to what their effect on DUI arrests, DUI accidents, and the rate of drunk driving might be.
Anecdotally, having worked briefly in Washington DC, and having visited many cities with famously great public transportation around the world, including Switzerland, Boston, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, and London, I can tell you that having readily available transportation leads to dramatically lower incidences of drunk driving. The proof is not just in one DUI lawyer’s anecdotes, but rather in the statistics. Per 1000 people, the cities that have good public transportation have much lower DUI arrest rates, and much lower DUI death rates, compared to California, where I practice, and where Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol is the number one crime in California.
New studies show that they have had a dramatic impact on DUI rates. From data beginning in 2010,Uber has stated that they have shown a measurable drop in DUI arrests just from Uber entering the market for each city. Uber states that the:
…study provides evidence that Uber’s network of safe, readily available rides have a meaningful and measurable impact on drunk driving in cities in which Uber operates freely. …the data confirms the intuitive claim, backed up by countless anecdotes, that potential drunk drivers will choose other options, like rides with Uber, when they are convenient, affordable, and readily available.
In 2014, the Washington Post asked in a well researched article, “Are Uber and Lyft Responsible for Reducing DUIs?” That article in turn cited one paper that asked “What if the Way to Eliminate Drunk Driving is to Eliminate Driving?”
A 2015 article showed that, here in California, Uber Actually has a Dramatic Effect in reducing DUI death rates.
Professors Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal looked at the quarterly changes in vehicular homicides—which kill 13,000 Americans each year—occurring in Californian cities with Uber versus the rate in those ones without, finding that the service reduced deaths by a minimum of 3.6 percent wherever it was implemented.
In San Francisco, for example (which admittedly, has a high-adopting, tech-comfortable population), during the months and years studied, the presence of Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, caused DUI arrests to regress 10 years to an earlier mean, and if measured from the peak, caused a 58% drop in DUI arrests.
Since Uber partnered with the NFL to offer free rides to players, DUIs in the league have decreased by nearly 80%.
An analysis of DUI arrest data in Philadelphia by computer statistician Nate Good found that monthly DUI arrests decreased 11 percent from April 2013, when Uber started in that city, to December 2013.. The decrease in DUI arrests was particularly notable among drivers under the age of 30. A comparison of the average monthly DUI arrests among drivers under age 30 showed an 18.5 percent decrease in the second half of 2013.
Self driving cars might be what actually puts the nail in the coffin for DUI. Self driving cars are currently (in 2016) a reality, and in mass production, and Uber has pledged to purchase self driving cars at the incredible rate of 500,000 a year, and move towards a fully automated service. That can only increase.
Currently, Uber states that the average cost per ride is just over $7.00. With self driving cars, that do not require sharing fees with the driver, Uber claims that will drop to $2.00 per ride. Compared to a taxi rate of $30, a self driving car that returns you home safely, no matter how intoxicated you are, for $2.00, and doesn’t require a tip, would certainly make the risk/reward decision ratio favor Uber, not the drunk driver.
How that will affect the US, and the World, economy, is another story, but a related one. Uber is the largest employer in California. Transportation of all kinds, including taxi, delivery, long haul trucking, and other driving, is the largest category of employment in the US economy. Self driving vehicles of all types could cause massive unemployment, or require training away from driving and towards other jobs.
Since for most people, a car is not used over 80% of the time – while sitting at work, or overnight in your garage, for example, having a car “on demand”, that does not have to have money spent on it for insurance, maintenance, tires, car washes, fuel, etc., would be a better use of resources.
It is foreseeable that many people, at $2 average per ride, might decide not to spend money on a vehicle that costs $10,000 to $60,000 to purchase, and more in other costs after purchase, if their transportation costs would be $500 or so per year without a vehicle.
In Southern California, where our law practice is, and where huge parking lots and parking garages handle the long term and short term parking needs of vehicles while the occupants are doing other things, it may change the real estate industries as well. The supply and demand of real estate may dramatically change once parking lots are not needed everywhere. (It’s said that currently 50% of the land in Los Angeles county is used for parking).
The travel industry is also subject to change – with cars running 24 hours per day, people may choose to sleep in a larger vehicle (or there may be vehicles built for that purpose), rather than fly or stay in hotels.
YouTuber CPG Grey has noted at least some of the effects on the labor force from automation:
But the effects on auto dealers, mechanics, insurance agents and insurance companies, and on automotive parts and other industries could be widespread.
Even with automotive technology, like alcohol detectors in vehicles, those that choose to drive may not be able to.
Helping to prevent people from driving under the influence of alcohol is not the goal of rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar (RIP), but they have gained popularity all over the world because of their convenience and low cost. Not having to use cash (the services use a credit card and cellphone apps), reduces theft crimes. As some academics noted a while back, reducing incentives for the driving part of drunk driving is the easier way to reduce DUI.
Will DUI become a relic of the past? People may always make dumb decisions, including the decision to drive drunk. But the ways the decisions can be made may be diminishing due to technology.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving in Orange County, contact our law firm for a free consultation. Being arrested for DUI is a serious criminal offense and can impact your personal and professional life upon conviction. Call 714-585-8783 to schedule a consultation anytime.