DUI arrests down significantly since Uber, Lyft launched in Lexington

(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 5, 2018 at 5:52 PM EDT
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Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are potentially playing a major role in decreasing the number of drunk drivers on Lexington roads.

So far in 2018, no month has topped 100 DUI arrests, and those who keep track of the numbers say the apps could be part of the reason for the decline. The services began in 2014 -- a year Lexington saw at least 100 DUI arrests for each of the first 11 months.

Uber driver Matt Elliott says his side job is somewhat of a calling for him.

"What if they make the bad choice? They don't want to ride a cab. There's not an Uber driver available, and they get in the car, and they go out and kill somebody," Elliott said.

The number of Lexington DUI arrests since 2014 have significantly dropped. The number dropped by 345 arrests from 2014 to 2015. It dropped by another 56 arrests in 2016 before a slight increase in 2017. 2018 is currently on track to see fewer arrests than 2017.

Lexington attorney Tucker Richardson specializes in DUI cases. He says ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are not the only reasons for the decline in arrests. He believes there is a change in attitude toward drunk driving in younger generations.

"I think the most important factor is education," Richardson said, saying television public service announcements are helping get the message out about the consequences.

The declining number of DUI arrests is a national trend, but Richardson says some areas are still seeing slight increases in DUI related crashes. He says he tells his clients that a DUI arrest is a big wakeup call, as the consequences could be much worse than a few hours in jail and court costs.

"People come in and say, 'I got a DUI,' and, 'It's the worst thing that ever happened to me,' and I'm like, 'No it's not,'" Richardson said, "Some little kid could have been chasing a ball out there in the middle of the road. You could've had an accident. You could've hurt somebody."

Rosalind Donald with Kentucky's Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a statement saying, "MADD has appreciated and supported the efforts of ride sharing companies. They have assisted in boosting community responsibility and safety. However, downward DUI arrests is a national trend and according to information provided by the Transportation cabinet, DUI crashes are on a slight increase in certain areas. It is important to applaud efforts by all interested in seeing a decrease in DUI fatality. But it is always hard to pinpoint causation to any trend without empirical evidence. MADD's goal is to save lives and unfortunately DUI crashes for the least few years have seen decreases and spikes. It's important that we continue to fight DUI on all fronts. Our Law enforcement heroes and ride share programs still require progressive DUI legislation, awareness education, as well as community support."

The downward trend is even more significant in Kentucky's most-populous city.

Below is a year-by-year and month-by-month comparison of DUI arrests in Lexington.