DWI arrests and convictions go up and down from season to season and year to year. Those cycles can have several causes. Changes in DWI laws, such as lowering legal blood-alcohol limits, may expand their scope, reaching more conduct by more vehicle drivers, causing more DWI arrests and convictions. Police budgets, priorities, and enforcement actions can also increase arrests and convictions. More officers on the road looking for drunk driving generally means more stops, arrests, and convictions. Social changes, like the increased popularity of drinking or the introduction of highly addictive new drugs, can also contribute to DWI peaks. What, though, is going on currently with Texas DWI arrests and convictions?
A Local Spike in 2021 DWI Arrests
Any question about DWI trends is likely to quickly become complex. DWI statistics, like other numbers, can be notoriously hard to interpret for meaningful patterns. For example, a spike in one locale doesn't necessarily mean a spike in all locales. DWI arrests can have local rather than widespread regional or national causes. But a recent media story reporting a spike in 2021 DWI arrests by Canyon, Texas authorities still raises some interesting possibilities.
The report indicates that in little more than the first quarter of 2021, local authorities had already made well more than half the total number of DWI arrests that authorities made in all of 2020. At that rate, DWIs in the locale would roughly quadruple in a single year. That, folks, is more than a little trend or pattern. At least for that one locale, the quadrupling of DWI arrests represents a serious public safety and policing issue.
Reasons Why 2021 DWIs Differ From 2020
Reasons for a vast increase in DWIs from 2020 to 2021 are not hard to find. The media story's interview quotes of the local police chief brought forward the most obvious reason. The pandemic in 2020 crashed the number of DWIs. The police chief admitted that COVID precautions simply kept police from making their usual number of traffic stops. But we all also stayed home a lot more than usual in 2020, even while bars closed or limited their hours and service. A lot of things were different last year, and most of them would have contributed to a natural decline in DWI crimes.
Well, 2021 is bringing us back in the direction of normal. For the media story, the police chief indicated that the current rate of local DWI arrests might well exceed the annual ten-year average, although not by a lot. The story leaves the inference that DWI arrests may be experiencing a sort of rebound effect following the pandemic. Officers are back on the road, eager to enforce DWI laws. All of us are eager to feel some semblance of normalcy. We are eating and drinking out again, eager to socialize, and perhaps over-eager to experience our liberty again while calming our anxieties.
The police chief, though, had the right last words to the story: don't drink and drive. Designate a sober driver, call for a ride, or rideshare home. Don't make yourself a part of a sobering statistic.
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