Can a Lack of Public Transportation Lead to Higher DUI Arrests?

If you ask any New Yorker, they will tell you that the real beauty of New York is the 24/7 subway. You do not need a car in New York, whether you plan on using the subway or cabs, you will always get around with relative ease. Take that context with a city like San Diego, where the nightlife options are plentiful, but where the city is spread out and fails to provide reasonable public transportation. It affects more than the vibe in the two places. It also can have an effect on the number of people who drink and drive. San Diego is consistently the city in the United States with the most arrest and convictions for drunk driving offenders, while still being far from one of the nation’s largest cities. What is the reason for this disconnect? Some say that the high level of training that San Diego’s officers undergo in order to prepare for aggressive DUI violation enforcement are to blame, but the lack of public transportation is just as likely a legitimate reason. Larger cities such as New York have a significantly lower number of drunk driving arrests, and one of the reasons that this might be is because of New York’s excellent public transportation system–something that San Diego sorely needs.


Overly-Aggressive DWI/DUI Enforcement

While some county officials note that the DUI enforcement in California cities such as San Diego and San Jose could be called “overly-aggressive”, the fact remains that whether or not they are caught, these individuals are indulging in a pastime that kills a significant number of people every single year in the United States. High enforcement levels also cause problems at the county level as those who are arrested have to be contained somewhere, swelling the jails to overcrowding levels at the same time.

The Role of Public Transportation

Instead of blaming the police for doing their job and catching the people who are driving while intoxicated or under the influence, instead let’s take a look at some different places around the world where the rate of impacted driving are much lower and why. Significantly larger cities such as London have a culture where catching a drink after work is almost expected, however the drunk driving rate is incredibly low because there is a corner bar within walking distance or within the distance of easy public transportation no matter where you are. The same holds true for cities such as New York. According to DUI Lawyers, even though New York has nearly double (possibly triple) the population that San Diego boasts, the citizens of New York are half as likely to be arrested for DWI and one of the key reasons that this is because of the advanced public transportation system that is in place in New York City.

Laws v. Public Transportation

Unfortunately, San Diego, like many other cities its size are in a conundrum. How can citizens enjoy themselves with a drink once in a while by going to a bar that is quite a ways away from them due to zoning laws – far enough away, in fact, that in order to get there the resident must drive their vehicle to the bar (and back!) after indulging? This paradigm is doomed to failure and makes little sense, for many reasons including the problem of drunk driving and the lack of community that a society that stays home experiences. There are some recent analyses in Texas showing that DWI arrests in counties that serve alcohol are lower than those counties which do not serve alcohol. Why? One potential reason might be because in a dry county you have to drive in order to reach an alcoholic beverage while in a non-dry county there’s a possibility that you can take readily-available public transportation to get there safely and home again!

Police officer arresting a woman with handcuffs

Creating a complementary strategy to the tactic of ongoing arrests for DUI in San Diego would include defining a way to enhance and expand the overall public transportation within the city to a level that would allow individuals to cross the different areas of the city without needing to take their own vehicle. This not only benefits the safety of all drivers, but also helps keep individual’s costs lower through reduced gas requirements and overall contributes to a cleaner environment. Improving the public transportation in San Diego can help support a number of different positive initiatives for the city.