I hope to make this a semi-regular post that discusses the financial impact of DUI arrests in Pennsylvania and State College and the spike in recent years of the number of DUI arrests in Pennsylvania. What’s interesting is when you delve below the initial statistics, you will find that the numbers actually have a negative relation to one another. That is to say that the numbers don’t add up, or more precisely, yield a completely different result than one would expect.
This facts are no more evident than the following press release I recently came across from the Pennsylvania State Police which trumpeted their successes for the second straight year of setting a historical record for the number of arrests for DUI in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania State Police recently announced that troopers made a record number of arrests for driving under the influence in 2010.
Pa State Troopers made 17,695 DUI arrests in 2010, an increase of nearly five percent over the 16,900 DUI arrests reported the previous year. It was the ninth consecutive year in which the number of DUI arrests by state police increased.
What’s important to note is that alcohol related crashes investigated by Pennsylvania State Troopers actually decreased from 4,625 in 2009 to 4,595 in 2010.
So while almost 1,000 additional citizens of Pennsylvania were arrested for DUI last year, there was a decrease in the number of alcohol related crashes. Logic would dictate that with the continued record arrests each year in Pennsylvania for DUI, alcohol related crashes would also increase. However, this is not the case, as the alcohol related crash rate in Pennsylvania continues to decline. So what is the explanation for the inverse relation between the decrease in alcohol related crashes and the exponential increase in DUI related arrests?
Certainly, it could be argued that the increase in Pennsylvania DUI arrests could account for the decrease in DUI related accidents, but is 30 less DUI related accidents directly proportional to an additional 1,000 arrests? More importantly, what are the true costs to the taxpayers of State College and Pennsylvania to increase DUI checkpoints and roadblocks for a nominal decrease of 3% of DUI related accidents? While politicians and special interest groups will continue to point to these numbers as proof that more aggressive DUI policing is working and is required in State College, should Pennsylvania legislators be spending taxpayer dollars aiming for a success rate of 3%, and at what financial cost? More significantly, at what cost are citizens of Pennsylvania and State College willing to subvert their right to be free from unreasonable and invasive searches and seizures, in the name of decreasing DUI related accidents?