When Uber wants to move into an area, one claim it often makes is that its service will cut down on the number of DUIs. The reasoning is that people who have consumed enough alcohol to risk charges of DUI in Los Angeles and other cities would rather pay the lower Uber fare than go to jail.
In January 2015, Uber released a report conducted in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) that seemed to show the ride-sharing service was making an impact on DUIs. It stated that “In California, Uber’s home state and largest market, DUI crashes fell by 60 per month among drivers under 30 in markets where Uber operates following the launch of uberX.”
But researchers from the University of Oxford are disputing such claims. A study in a recent issue in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no noticeable impact on the number of DUI driving fatalities in cities where Uber operates.
David Kirk and Noli Brazil analyzed the DUI driving statistics from 2009 through 2014 in the 100 most populated metro areas in the U.S. They found no change in fatalities when Uber came into the market, even during peak drinking hours.
The study authors suggested that people who are responsible enough to take Uber when they’ve had too much to drive safely would have taken some other type of transportation, such as mass transit or taxi, if Uber wasn’t available. They also say that intoxicated people, who are not in the best condition to make good decisions, may decide to drive themselves because their risk of getting caught isn’t really that high. (The study notes that there are 121 million incidents of DUI driving in the U.S. each year, but only a tiny fraction of drivers breaking the law—1.1 million—actually get caught.)
An Uber ride would certainly be a cost-effective alternative to a DUI arrest and conviction. In addition to the embarrassment of being arrested, and the fines and penalties levied under California Vehicle Code 23152, a driver convicted of DUI could lose his/her license; have to install an ignition interlock device; and make time to attend alcohol education school and/or meet with a probation officer.
What should you do if you or someone you love faces a serious DUI count? Will you go to jail? Will you lose your license? Call Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer Michael Kraut immediately to understand your options and craft a strategic response.