One silver lining about the lockdown in Oregon this spring in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic: drinking and driving appears to have gone down.
The Oregon State Police reported that its officers issued 13% fewer DUI citations and warnings from March through May, compared with that same period last year. In total, the OSP recorded 664 DUI cases over those three months. In spring 2019, the OSP recorded 760 cases.
In Central Oregon, sheriff’s deputies witnessed an especially steep reduction in drunk driving. For example, in Deschutes County, last year, deputies made 92 DUI arrests during the March-May period. This year, they arrested just 41.
Up in Washington, the statewide change was even more dramatic. The State Patrol there reported a 46 percent drop in DUI cases year-over-year.
Drinking at bars was not an option
Clearly, the reduced drunk driving numbers are a reflection of the lockdown rules imposed here in Oregon and most of the rest of the country. With bars, restaurants, taprooms and nightclubs closed, and house parties strongly discouraged, there just were not as many opportunities to drink and drive as there usually are.
On the other hand, alcohol and marijuana sales were brisk in the first months of the pandemic. With people not reducing their drinking, and possibly drinking more than ever, it is clear that DUI car accidents are not going away from Oregon any time soon.
The consequences of drunk driving
Drunk driving is not only dangerous to the person who is doing it. While many DUI crashes involve one vehicle, it is common for a drunk driver to crash into an innocent, law-abiding motorist and their passengers. Those unfortunate victims can get seriously hurt because of a stranger’s bad decisions.
When that happens, the injured parties have the right to seek financial compensation from the drunk driver for things like lost wages, medical bills and their pain and suffering. Pursuing a personal injury claim can be challenging, but the help of an experienced attorney can make the process much faster and simpler.