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DUI’s up in 2020. Did Coronavirus play a role?

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Mar 08, 2021 | 0 Comments

In the second quarter of 2020, DUI's, speeding - including extreme speeds & failure to wear seatbelts - increased according to the NHTSA ( National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ).  Nearly two thirds of the drivers involved in fatal or serious traffic accidents were under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. The presence of opiods nearly doubled since mid-March of 2020, and presence of marijuana increased by 50%.

Marijuana and Alcohol sales and DUIs 

During Covid 19, alcohol and marijuana sales increased drastically. Compared to the same time last year, alcohol sales were up nearly 20% on average and marijuana sales increased approximately 40%. However, the increase in marijuana and alcohol sales does not necessarily mean driving under the influence increased at a commensurate rate. However, since COVID 19, the percentage of drivers pulled over or in accidents with drugs or alcohol found in their system has increased a statistically significant amount. This statistic is most significant among males. The increase has persisted throughout the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2020.

Why were people not wearing seatbelts?  In general, since COVID 19 hit the American population, seatbelt use declined. During the first half of the pandemic, there was a statistically significant decrease in seatbelt use. However, since about mid-July, seatbelt use is on the rise. However, amongst those pulled over for DUI, seatbelt use was still greatly decreased.

Speeding, also rose significantly during COVID. Maybe most importantly is the difference between the slowest and fastest speed on the road increased during COVID 19 as well. This means that not only are people driving faster, but some people are driving even more slowly than normal. This difference causes an increase traffic accidents. Remember, that while usually speed alone is not sufficient for a police officer or a State Trooper to arrest you and charge you with a gross misdemeanor, extreme speeding or racing will. If you are caught doing “extreme speeding” or racing, a police officer can (and likely will) arrest you for Reckless Driving which is a gross misdemeanor here in Washington. If you are drinking or under the influence of drugs while you are speeding, the officer can also charge you with DUI.

While the reasons for the lack of seatbelt use and speeding is unknown, it could be a result of less cars on the road allowing for open lanes and a false sense of security.   

What does this mean for you?

There is a false sense of security thinking that because there are less people on the road it's safer to drive. It is just as important now as ever to wear your seatbelt, not speed, and of course, don't drink and drive. If you are pulled over for DUI, extreme speeding, or both, it is important for you to contact an attorney immediately to assist you with these matters. Prosecutors have quickly caught up with the backlogged case load caused by COVID 19, which means your case may be filed faster than you expect. If this is the case, you want a good DUI lawyer or the Reckless Driving attorney to advise you what to do first so that you are ready for your arraignment and your attorney can negotiate the best resolution to your case.  But, don't forget about Department Of Licensing!  If you are charged with a DUI, call an attorney, they can explain to you the DOL process and why it is so important to get that hearing request out quickly.

COVID-19 impacts us in ways that we did not expect and puts us in positions we never could have believed possible. During this stressful time, if you are pulled over for a DUI,  call a DUI attorney. Your attorney can help you carry the burden of your DUI and help you negotiate and resolve your matter efficiently.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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