DUI arrests are down in Orange County as compared to a few years ago, but
the number of crashes have been rising in OC and statewide.
The steep drop in DUI arrests isn’t necessarily attributed to less
drunk drivers. Rather, it’s likely because police have been running
fewer saturation patrols and
DUI checkpoints, but it can also be attributed to ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft.
Law enforcement in Orange County have observed another trend: an increase
in crashes involving people who were impaired by
drugs, both legal and illegal, rather than alcohol.
Fountain Valley Police Chief Daniel S. Llorens said that he is anxious
about increased driving by people using prescription medications and/or
marijuana in addition to alcohol.
Llorens told the
Register that both create a synergistic effect when combined with even a modest
amount of alcohol, which could easily lead to poor driving decisions.
DUI arrests dove down by nearly 26 percent in Orange County from their
peak in 2008 through 2013, according to the latest figures from the state.
DUI crashes, however, didn’t plunge so drastically. The number of
DUI crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities in Orange County fell
13 percent, as compared to 24 percent for the state from its 2003 peak.
Statewide, drug-related fatalities rose from 696 to 892, while alcohol-related
fatalities rose by 1,072 in 2010 to 1,197 in 2013, the
Register reported. The most recent figures for OC and California are from 2013;
the newest numbers are expected in the spring.
Register surveyed local police departments, here’s what it learned:
- In 2015, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department logged 1,180 DUI
- Fullerton’s downtown bar scene led to 623 DUI arrests through November
of 2015, according to Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes.
- Santa Ana produced 704 DUI arrests by the first week of December of 2015,
said Corporal Anthony Bertagna.
- Anaheim’s DUI arrests went from 555 in 2014, to 563 in December 2015,
said Sgt. Daron Wyatt.
Some Orange County cities reported more DUI arrests in 2015 than in 2014,
for example, Newport Beach and Tustin arrested more people through November
of 2015 than they had in all of 2014, according to officials.
Fullerton’s Hughes said that recession-based staffing cuts that started
in 2010 have played a role in the reduction in DUI arrests, as well as
call service loads. There’s less time for officers to look for drunk
drivers because they have to respond to more calls and have less patrol
time, he said.
Arrests could also be dropping due to Uber and Lyft.
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