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Has Uber Really Lowered DUI Rates Across the Country?

Recent studies have started to surface in regards to the number of OUI’s now that Uber has become a popular ride-sharing service. Uber operates in many cities across the country and has become increasingly more popular over the last couple of years. Young people and adults alike look to Uber to provide transportation after a night out; Uber is generally considered a safer option and is accessible to those who live outside the city.

What does this mean for OUI rates across the country? As Uber is still relatively new in the transportation world, there have been mixed finding’s depending on what study you look at. A study on drunk driving in the city of New York supported the idea that, boroughs that had wide-spread usage of Uber, had a 25%-35% decrease in the number of accidents where alcohol was a leading factor; these numbers can be compared to areas which do not offer Uber as a ride service to it’s residents.

The study, summarized by the New York Times here, illustrates that this results in about 40 fewer alcohol-related accidents per month. California, another state that conducted a similar study back in 2015, also found that there was a decrease in Drunk driving fatal crashes; more recently, West California conducted a study which produced shockingly similar results. However, some would argue that while New York and other popular cities have seen a decrease in OUI’s and alcohol related collisions, Uber is still a new company and these findings can not be applied country-wide.

Inherently, opting for a ride-sharing service is a safe bet after a night of drinking; the New York Times study brought to attention that while this makes sense, not everyone who has been drinking would make the decision to opt for an Uber as opposed to driving themselves home. A study conducted last year took into consideration 100 populated areas across the country, and ultimately found that there was no tangible correlation between Uber and drunk driving accident’s or OUI’s.

So what does this mean for Massachusetts? As of now, there have been no major studies on Uber done in Massachusetts; feel free to read more about an OUI charge in Massachusetts here. As Uber grows in popularity, more evidence and subsequent research will inherently lead to more findings.  In my opinion, Uber has helped to reduce drunk driving.  It is common sense that as it is easier to get a ride it reduces the chances that someone would have drove drunk.  It will be hard to put any numbers on this because people who use Uber and think ahead may not have driven drunk in the first place.  But for the person who unexpectedly has too much to drink, Uber is a fast and easy option that I am sure many have taken to reduce the number of drunk driving arrests.  With these studies that Uber lowers DUI rates, it would also be interesting to see if funding for the number of police officers remained constant during that period.  Funding for police departments could play a larger role than Uber in impacting the rates of DUI arrests.

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