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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Arrests of drunk drivers in South Florida reduces

Por Damian

In the last four years, the arrests for DUI (driving under the influence) made by the two largest police departments of Miami-Dade have plummeted. In the Miami-Dade Police Department, the largest in the southeastern United States, arrests dropped an astounding 65 percent in 2017 compared to the previous four years. The Miami-Dade Police arrested more than 1,500 people a year between 2013 and 2015, but only 594 arrests were made for the same charge last year.

Miami numbers were not as flashy, although they also decreased a lot. Miami Police arrested 461 people on DUI charges in 2013. By 2015, the number was reduced to 321 and has since stabilized representing a decrease of 31 percent.

Part of the success is probably related to the increase of companies like Uber and Lyft. Their growing popularity coincided almost directly with the drop in DUI arrests, but studies show that the impacts vary from city to city.

Other factors also come into play, say those who track the statistics. Some attribute the decline to a better educated public. Others point to a more proactive action by the authorities and that millennials do not like to drive.

"The reality is that it's really hard to know the full impact," said David Pinsker, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an agency that works closely with dozens of police departments across the country to curb the potentially deadly mix of alcohol and the steering wheel. "I think it's really difficult to determine exactly what impact shared trips (Uber and Lift) have had. We know they have had an impact, but I can´t offer a figure. "

Nationwide, a 2017 study found mixed results in determining whether travel at companies like Uber is responsible for a lower DUI or accident rate. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, analyzed four cities that had such services, stopped using it and then reinstated it.

The results varied from 2013 to 2016. When the shared-travel service was available, DUIs were reduced in Portland, Oregon by almost 60 percent, the study said. San Antonio (Texas) had similar results. But the figures did not change much in Reno (Nevada), a tourist mecca. The researchers also found few changes in Las Vegas, because, as in Reno, the population is full of visitors who take taxis, public transport or just walk.

The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, referred to the decline a few weeks ago with the Miami Herald Editorial Board while discussing concerns about parking at the soccer stadium at the International Links Melreese Country Club. The mayor attributed the reduction to travel at Uber or Lyft, a transportation option that, according to him, would also reduce parking demands for the project.

There is only a limited number of studies that analyze whether trips in Uber or Lyft contribute to a decrease in the number of drunk drivers or under the influence of other substances. In 2015, MADD partnered with Uber and found that drunk driving accidents among children under 30 decreased by 6.5 percent where this type of travel service was used. Two years later, a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found a similar correlation, but not in all cities.

Javier Correoso, Uber's public affairs manager in Florida, said his company has worked closely with MADD to promote how easy it is to use its services during the two most consumed parties of the year: Halloween and New Year's Eve.