2014 statistics show big decrease in Washington DUI Arrests
Statistics are in for 2014 Washington DUI case filings. And compared to the previous year, there is a significant downturn. In 2013, Washington Court Reports indicated there were a total of 31,730 filings for misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) and physical control cases in all of Washington's district and municipal courts. For 2014, Washington Court Reports has a total of 28,588 filings for misdemeanor driving under the influence and physical control arrests throughout all of Washington's courts. Statewide, this amounts to a 9.9% decrease between the two years.
What is more surprising, however, is there is a bigger decrease in filings in King County.
Even sharper downturns in DUI filings in King County
The largest prosecuting agency in the state is the King County Prosecuting attorney's office. They file DUI charges against all people arrested by a Trooper of the Washington State Patrol, a Deputy with the King County Sheriff's office as well as an Officer with the University of Washington Police Department. They file in one of there 3 district courts (Seattle District Court, Redmond District Court and the Maleng Regional Justice Center). In 2013, they filed a total 3682 DUI and Physical Control charges in the King County District Court. In 2014, there was a total of 2717 filings. This amounts to a decrease of 26.2% year over year.
In addition, looking at some of the major cities in King County, we see a similar trend. DUI Filings in Seattle Municipal Court (for people arrested by a member of the Seattle Police Department) went from 1111 in 2013 to 968 in 2014 for a reduction of 12.9%. Kirkland DUI filings went down from 387 in 2013 to 327 in 2014 for a 15.5% decrease. There is even a bigger decrease of City of Redmond DUI filings as they went from 91 in 2013 to 64 in 2014 for a 29.7% fall. And the biggest of all comes from DUI and Physical Control charges brought by the City of Bellevue, where the charges went from 218 in 2013 all the way to 146 in 2015 making it a 33% decline.
This statewide downturn begs the question: Why?
An explanation for this decrease from a Seattle DUI Lawyer
As a Seattle DUI Attorney with over 15 years of experience, I think the biggest reason is there are less police officers on the roadways. The Washington State Traffic Commission has seen limited federal funding for their impaired driving campaigns, such as the Target Zero Team. In addition, there are several police agencies with many openings for police officers. A few months back, I saw an advertisement on Alaska Airline's in-flight magazine for openings in the City of Bellevue Police Department. Similarly, the Washington State Patrol is actively promoting positions as a Trooper Cadet (a starting point before attending the formal academy to becoming a fully commissioned Trooper). Naturally, with less police on the roadways there are less people being arrested for DUI.
Another reason I attribute to this downturn in DUI filings is that driver's (both in Washington and throughout the nation), have begun to realize the severe consequences surrounding an arrest for DUI and are not driving impaired. State and national radio and television campaigns regarding impaired driving are having an impact on public. We have all seen or heard the commercials informing us to "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" or "Buzzed Driving means Drunk Driving." The reality is that if a person is charged with a DUI, they are facing costs and fines of several thousand dollars. Plus, younger drivers are more aware of the ramifications and are less likely to drive after consuming alcohol.
And the third factor are the several new ride feature services such as Uber and Lyft. Nowadays, it is simple to merely log onto a smartphone and have a driver at your doorstep within a matter of a few minutes. The ease and convenience of these services are leading to more people making the smart decision of not getting behind the wheel when they have had too much too drink.
Being a Seattle DUI lawyer, many people might think that I am unhappy with this decrease in filings because it negatively impact my business. That is simply not the case. With my experience and reputation in the field, my DUI defense practice is still quite busy. And more importantly, as a father and a concerned citizen, I do not support driving under the influence. But I know that good people can make a mistake and have an error in judgment. And the most rewarding aspect of my job as a Seattle DUI attorney is helping these people work through the difficult times following their arrest and getting them through it with the best possible outcome.