Impaired Driving. Is it increasing? In recent months, many families have faced tremendous issues. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. The risk of sickness. The loss of jobs and income. The ever-changing schedules for school and work. The isolation of social distancing. For years, I’ve seen the devastating impact of isolation in my injured clients suffering chronic pain and disability. With COVID-19, others are also now experiencing the impact.
When I read recently that several local Alabama law enforcement agencies have faced increasing issues with intoxicated drivers, I was not surprised. The crises facing many workers increases problems with alcohol over-consumption. During difficult times, issues with alcohol and drugs often increase.
Around Decatur, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department recently reported that DUI arrests have increased 54% this year compared to last year. In Lawrence County, the Town Creek Police Chief reported DUI arrests have increased over 40% compared to last year. I discussed these statistics with a current car accident client who is also a police officer and he indicated many of his fellow officers noticed increasing issues. You can read a short article in the Insurance Journal reporting this issue by clicking HERE. That’s a significant increase. And, it means many more dangerous drivers are on Alabama roads.
Keep in mind that during the pandemic, many bars and restaurants have faced closures and temporary shutdowns. This is very concerning as it indicates much of the over-consumption of alcohol is being done by people in isolation. According to an American Heart Association article, alcohol sales in stores increased 54% in March compared to last year and a whopping 500% in April. That’s a huge increase in consumption.
Now, I’m not writing to advocate for or against alcohol. I’m writing to discuss safety. These statistics are concerning. They indicate a huge increase in alcohol consumption and isolated driving. That puts people at risk of serious personal injury and death on our Alabama roadways.
For decades, impaired driving was a huge issue on American roads. Over many years, groups like MADD worked tirelessly to reduce the danger. Many state legislatures (including Alabama) lowered maximum blood alcohol levels for drivers, raised the drinking age, and increased punishment for offenders. Many local prosecutors employed zero tolerance for DUI arrests. Local authorities also began to prosecute drivers involved in accidents while impaired by prescription drugs. The emphasis on alcohol and drugs produced a tremendous decrease in dangerous impaired driving. Many lives were saved. At the same time, we faced new issues such as distracted driving due to the rising number of cell phones and other electronic devices. While distracted driving often gets all the publicity, impaired driving remains a serious highway issue.
With the novel coronavirus, are we facing problems with people over-indulging in alcohol due to the family, work, and social issues they face? Many health and law enforcement groups think so. The statistics show a troubling increase in impaired driving across northern Alabama. During these difficult times, we should all be extra careful on the highway. And, we should all be aware and ready to help our neighbors suffering from the impact of job loss and social isolation.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm represents clients across Alabama who are suffering serious personal injuries. Our case approach is centered on preparation and hard work. Outside the courtroom, we continue to advocate for the safer highways, safer workplaces and safer products that improve the lives of our neighbors.