DUI arrests trending downward with liquor privatization

DUI arrests trending downward with liquor privatization
File photo shows DUI crash
SEATTLE - The Washington State Patrol now has a full year of data covering driving arrests and crashes since private retailers took over liquor sales.

Despite hard alcohol being much more widely available, there was no increase in DUIs and drunk driving accidents.

Jason Mercier with Washington Policy Center compiled the numbers from Washington State Patrol statistics.

"Privatization didn't improve the numbers necessarily but it didn't make it any worse either." Mercier adds, "I don't think you can draw a correlation that because of private sales now we have fewer alcohol related arrests."

But State Patrol data does show a continued improving trend downward with 2,347 DUI collisions and 19,703 DUI arrests during the first year of privatization. That is down from 21,577 DUI arrests in 2011-2012.

Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins agrees the sky is not falling with more liquor available, but he also cautions against making a direct correlation to the DUI numbers.

"The number of arrests is much more directly connected to the number of police officers out there actually patrolling," he says.

And he reminds us that State Patrol is down about 80 troopers right now.

Calkins tells KOMO Newsradio there will be officers out on DUI emphasis patrols this Thursday for Halloween.

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