Popular ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft may be saving lives. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) says the apps are driving down alcohol-related accidents and fatalities on Nevada’s streets and highways. According to MADD, the numbers were down by 25 percent in Nevada for 2015. Are the new ridesharing services really responsible for a decline in drunk driving?
Uber was founded in 2009, and its growth has been spectacular. Today, Uber is available in over sixty countries and more than four hundred cities globally. Estimates place the company’s worth at $62.5 billion. While Uber is a smashing business success, the question remains. Are Uber, Lyft, and the other rideshare companies actually reducing intoxicated driving? In 2014, Uber commissioned researchers to find out if the ridesharing service was having any effect on drunk driving in Seattle.
WHAT DO THE DUI STATISTICS TELL US?
When Uber first arrived in the Seattle market in 2013, police officers in that city were arresting – on average – more than seven drivers every day for driving under the influence, or more than 2,700 drivers every year. After conducting their research, Uber published it and proclaimed that DUI arrests in Seattle had declined by about ten percent since the company entered the Seattle market.
Research from California also indicates that the new app-based rideshare services are reducing impaired driving in that state. After the introduction of “UberX” in California markets in July 2012 (UberX is a service that does not guarantee luxury vehicles), DUI-related crashes involving drivers under the age of thirty dropped more than six percent in those markets. It’s the equivalent of sixty fewer accidents each month or more than 2,500 potential collisions that did not happen in California since July 2012.
Some believe that as ride sharing services like Uber continue to expand to more states and cities, DUI-related crashes and deaths will drop as they have in Seattle and in the California markets. The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Colleen-Sheehey Church, says that “Uber’s proven commitment to keeping the roads safe is critical to helping us create a future of no more victims.”
IS UBER’S IMPACT BEING EXAGGERATED?
There is no doubt that Uber’s studies and conclusions make their company and industry look attractive. Rideshare services are convenient, and they’re popular at the moment with consumers, but are Lyft and Uber having a genuine, direct effect on driving under the influence? Or does Uber’s research exaggerate the industry’s impact? Or are DUIs declining in cities like Seattle – and in states like Nevada – for reasons unrelated to ridesharing?
It’s difficult to say with any precision or certainty, but DUI arrests, accidents, injuries, and fatalities are probably declining in Nevada and elsewhere for a number of reasons. Some states have actually reduced funding for law enforcement, so fewer DUI arrests in those states don’t necessarily mean fewer motorists are driving under the influence. Heightened awareness about DUI and increasingly tougher penalties are probably also key factors.
In cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, limos, taxis, and other kinds of public and commercial transportation have been widely available for nearly a century, so a few additional vehicles-for-hire can’t likely have more than a minimal effect. At the same time that the ridesharing industry has emerged, a number of other factors have been at work that may also explain the drop in DUI incidents and fatalities.
ARE FEWER PEOPLE DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED?
In states where DUI arrests are dropping, because police agencies are not being properly funded, that’s not good news. Despite Uber’s research conclusions, the numbers of motorists driving under the influence may in fact not be dropping. It may simply be that fewer impaired drivers are being stopped by the police because there are fewer police officers on the street to make those stops. In those states, fewer police officers mean more risk for anyone who’s on the road.
As everyone knows already, the best advice for avoiding a driving under the influence prosecution is simply this – don’t drink and drive. Period. You might end up needing the services of an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney. Lyft, Uber, and the other app-based rideshare services now complement the choices that were already available in Las Vegas for avoiding a DUI arrest.
Whenever you plan to enjoy drinks with friends, arrange for transportation in advance. Use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, call a cab or a limousine, or have someone you trust to handle the designated driving. A ride might cost a few dollars, but a DUI conviction in Nevada – or a ride to the ER or the morgue – is going to be far more expensive. Do the right thing. Never drink and drive.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DUI IN NEVADA?
First offenders should not expect leniency in the state of Nevada if the charge is DUI and they are convicted. In most cases, a first DUI offense in the state of Nevada is charged as a misdemeanor, but that doesn’t mean that the offense will not be treated seriously. A first offense DUI conviction in Nevada carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of two days (or forty-eight hours of community service) and a maximum sentence of six months. Your driver’s license will be suspended for ninety days.
The fine for a first Nevada DUI conviction can range from $400 to $1000, but that does not include the expenses associated with DUI school or with driver’s license reinstatement. You may also face a $120 reinstatement fee, a $35 victims’ compensation penalty, a $22 driver’s license fee, and a vision test, a written test, and a driving test. Drivers with previous DUI convictions face longer sentences and stiffer fines. Anyone who is charged with DUI in the Las Vegas area will need the services of an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney.
A driving under the influence conviction has other consequences as well. Automobile insurance will be more expensive. If you drive for a living, you may have trouble retaining your job or finding work. If you have a security clearance or a professional license, it will be challenged and possibly suspended. Those convicted of a felony DUI will lose the right to own a firearm in Nevada.
Clearly, the more choices consumers have for transportation, the better. Lyft, Uber, and other ridesharing services are a positive advance. DUI accidents and fatalities have slowly been declining in Nevada and elsewhere, but it takes more than one company, one development, or even one new industry to fight intoxicated driving effectively and keep us all safer.