Ten thousand drivers were pulled over by Durham police over the 7 weeks that ended just after New Year’s Day. Every driver was asked a simple question:

“Have you been drinking?”

Most said no. But altogether 118 of those drivers – some who might have even have answered “no” despite evidence to the contrary – were arrested and charged with impaired driving. They were nabbed at one of the many registered DUI checkpoints operated as part of the 2015 Festive RIDE campaign. That’s a 1.18 percent success rate, figuring that finding drunk drivers is the success indicator here.

Is that 1.8 percent rate a good thing? Overall, the Durham police report that drunk driving numbers are down as a general trend. There are a number of reasons for the improvement:

  • Successful anti-drunk driving education: anyone who doesn’t know by now that they shouldn’t drink and drive is living in a cave
  • Rideshare services and taxi apps that make it easier to get home after a night drinking
  • DUI checkpoints themselves, which not only remove drunk drivers from the road but alert everyone to the increased vigilance of the police, leading them to make better choices
  • Ignition interlock laws, which mandate car breathalyzers for many offenders, thus making it difficult or impossible for them to get behind the wheel while under the influence

Durham’s experience is not unique. Many communities in many states are showing steady downturns in alcohol-related driving arrests, collisions and road deaths.

So a 1.8 percent arrest rate means that 98.2 percent of drivers have gotten the message: it doesn’t pay to drink and drive.

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