In 2014, more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). It’s a staggering number, yet it pales in comparison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) findings: 4.2 million people admit to driving drunk at least once in the past month – an estimated 121 million total episodes of drunk driving every year.
A person who chooses to drink and drive is placing a great deal at risk. Convicted DUI offenders can face penalties such as suspension or revocation of their license, temporary impounding of their vehicle, and even prison time. More than that, they’re endangering their own safety and the safety of everyone around them. For 6,391 drunk drivers in 2014, their decision had a fatal end. Alcohol-impaired driving also killed an additional 2,752 vehicle occupants and 824 nonoccupants.
So, what does the national landscape of DUI offenses and law enforcement look like? We examined the frequency of DUI arrests in every state as well as the occurrence of these offenses in three major cities for which street-level DUI data were available. Keep reading to see what drunk driving looks like from a neighborhood perspective.
Arrests by State
What do over a million drunk-driving arrests look like across the United States? At a state level, the variations in arrest rates can be surprising: a 600-fold difference between the jurisdictions with the highest and lowest rates of DUI arrests. Nationally, North Dakota takes first place for DUI busts, with 90.12 arrests per 10,000 people – nearly 1 arrest for every 100 individuals. The state tragically saw 135 fatalities due to drunk driving in 2014, as well as increased DUI laws. The incarceration rate in North Dakota for drunk driving nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014, and the state also shows rates of heavy drinking and alcohol dependence that are substantially higher than the national average. The states with the highest DUI arrest rates cluster together geographically, as neighboring South Dakota is the runner-up, with 70.21 arrests per 10,000. Nearby Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho round out the top five with rates of 64.06, 52.04, and 45.51 respectively.
One factor that these states have in common? A very low population density. Four of them are among the bottom 10 states ranked by density. It’s possible that with fewer drivers on the road, and greater distances for them to travel, law enforcement officers have more opportunities to pay attention to individual drivers for signs of alcohol impairment. Rural areas are also themselves associated with a higher rate of fatal crashes related to drunk driving.
These very high rates of arrests were far from the norm across the nation. Washington, D.C., the area with the lowest arrest rate in the country, reported only 0.15 DUI arrests per 10,000 people. Alabama was a close second at 0.33 arrests per 10,000, followed by Illinois (2.84), Delaware (3.57), and Hawaii (5.71). Researchers have highlighted the key role of the direct intervention of law enforcement against drunk driving in preventing DUI-related deaths. A higher frequency of arrests for DUI in a state is associated with a reduced rate of fatal DUI-related crashes in that state. About 6,000 more DUI arrests by law enforcement are necessary to prevent an additional five alcohol-related traffic deaths every year.
Drunk Driving Deaths
Drunk driving is clearly a significant danger across the nation, but some people are more at risk than others. In 2014, drivers aged 21 to 24 were the most likely to be involved in a fatal crash while having a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. Among all drivers involved in fatal crashes in this age range, 30% had BACs above the legal limit, a total of 1,404.
The CDC has found that Americans aged 25 to 34 have the second-highest prevalence of binge drinking: 27.9% report binge drinking within the past month as well as drinking a maximum of 8.4 alcoholic beverages in one sitting during that time.
What does drunk driving really look like in a major U.S. city? This animated time-lapse map tracks the locations of DUI arrests in Seattle, Washington, throughout 2015. By zooming in and clicking to drag the map, you can view the streets of Seattle and observe which locations are hotspots for DUI busts. As you can see, these arrests have taken place on hundreds of streets around the city, with an increasing density along major thoroughfares. While DUI arrests may be more concentrated in certain high-traffic areas, these arrests can also occur anywhere, including side streets, alleys, and highways. This snapshot of enforcement against drunk driving in an urban setting captures only a small fraction of the more than 1 million DUI arrests made yearly across the country. Those who are considering driving while intoxicated should be aware that almost nowhere is safe for drunk drivers – and even those who aren’t caught are placing their lives and the lives of others at risk.
We also identified six intersections in Seattle that saw the highest number of DUI arrests in 2015. By far the greatest number occurred at the intersection of Aurora Avenue North and North 85th Street, with 32 arrests in total. Aurora Avenue North has long been noted as an area of increased crime in Seattle. While some local businesses have contended that there’s been a lack of adequate law enforcement against crime along this road, this location has twice as many DUI arrests as the tied runners-up. Two intersections, one along 15th Avenue Northwest and another along Lake City Way Northeast, placed second with 16 DUI arrests each. Notably, 15th Avenue is featured in three of the top six accident locations around Seattle, and this street is host to a variety of bars.
We also looked at the area immediately surrounding the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Here, it can clearly be seen that many DUI arrests – 88 in total in 2015 – took place in the vicinity of the campus. Roads and intersections near Husky Stadium and the UW Intramural Sports Field were hotspots for these arrests, as well as nearby Northeast 45th Street. Husky Stadium is often the site of drinking on game days, and the University of Washington even opened a dedicated space for serving alcohol at the stadium in 2014. This move was intended to bring some degree of regulation to already-frequent unsanctioned drinking at the stadium during games, and UW’s police commander was “cautiously optimistic” about this new policy.
UW five on-campus arrests and 15 off-campus arrests in 2014 for violations of various liquor laws; 93 on-campus disciplinary actions for these violations were also issued.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Next, we mapped the number of DUI arrests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2015. Florida Street, Nicholson Drive, Perkins Road, College Drive, and Florida Boulevard were all hotspots for DUI arrests.
The Tigerland area around Bob Pettit Boulevard – the city’s popular bar district south of LSU – has been a crime hotspot, which may be a contributing factor to the high number of DUI arrests. LSU staff, police, and property owners have proposed several approaches to address crime in the area, such as more surveillance cameras and license plate readers. DUI arrests recorded on Bob Pettit Boulevard have also been accompanied by offenses such as drinking while in a motor vehicle and failing to stop at a stop sign, which led to a collision.In some cases, drivers were recorded as having a blood alcohol level of almost twice the legal limit for those of legal age, or about seven times the legal limit for someone underage.
Interstate 12 (near exit 4) saw the second-highest number of DUI arrests, 21 in all. In one 2015 incident, a state trooper was struck by a drunk driver after pulling over to investigate a crash caused by another drunk driver. Perkins Road appeared twice in the top six locations, with 13 DUI arrests at the intersection of South Acadian Thruway and a further nine arrests at the intersection of Lee Drive.
We then took a closer look at DUI arrests around the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge, which has over 31,000 undergraduates enrolled. One hotspot for arrests is barely one block west of Tiger Stadium, home of the LSU Tigers. LSU recorded 167 on-campus arrests for any liquor law violations in 2014. Despite this, the school’s athletic director has stated his support for selling alcohol during football games. More arrests occur along Nicholson Drive and Burbank Drive, with police checkpoints leading to 16 DUI arrests on Nicholson and seven on Burbank in just two nights in 2014.
Kansas City, Missouri
Finally, we mapped the street-level locations of 2015 DUI arrests in Kansas City, Missouri. By zooming in, you can see where these DUI incidents were most frequent and tightly clustered. Main Street, Broadway Street, and the area surrounding East 39th Street are all top sites for offenses. High levels of arrests were also seen near The Paseo and East 35th Street.
Here, DUI arrests were not as concentrated as the other two locations – Kansas City’s peak location for arrests, along North and East 29th Street, saw only 22 arrests compared to Seattle’s and Baton Rouge’s 32 arrests. The intersection of West 115th Street and Wornall Road saw nearly as many, with 20 DUI arrests in total, and another 18 at Jarboe Street and West 38th Street.
We also focused on DUI arrests around the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the largest university in the city with over 16,000 students enrolled. East 50th Street, East 51st Street, and Wornall Road were all hotspots for DUI busts, as well as Volker Boulevard and the intersection of East 54th Street and Lydia Avenue. Additionally, UMKC reported issuing 68 disciplinary actions for on-campus violations of liquor laws in 2014.
Seeking Help for Problematic Alcohol Use
Choosing to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cost you everything – your license, your car, your freedom, and possibly your life. If substance abuse is affecting your life or that of a loved one, there’s hope. ProjectKnow.com can connect you with professional treatment services that are tailored to your individual needs when facing alcohol or drug addiction. Call 1-888-287-0471 today, and -find the help you deserve for a healthy recovery.
We acquired state data on DUI arrests from the FBI’s 2014 Uniform Crime Report and used the Census Bureau’s 2014 data to calculate each state’s rate of DUI arrests per 10,000 people. Data on age demographics of drivers with a BAC of .08 or more involved in fatal crashes was taken from the 2014 Traffic Safety Facts of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Detailed data on the street-level locations of DUI arrests were provided by the cities of Seattle, Washington; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Kansas City, Missouri.
- http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/decades-of-decay-haunt-infamous-aurora/) http://mynorthwest.com/11/2774750/Aurora-Avenue-businesses-accuse-Seattle-leaders-of-turning-blind-eye-to-crime
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