There have been a lot of changes in 2020 to the way that Americans live, work and play. Those changes have led to a remarkable drop in DWI fatalities and arrests in New Mexico even though evidence suggests that alcohol consumption has actually increased.
It’s not entirely clear, however, how one set of statistics plays into the other.
What’s going on with alcohol consumption?
According to a study released by RAND Corp. in October, binge drinking has increased rather dramatically over the last year. About 14% of men and 17% of women admit to drinking more than normal. A second study by Blue Cross Blue Shield shows that there’s been a 23% increase in alcohol consumption throughout the nation.
The truth may be even more startling, however, if research by Nielsen is accurate. The company reports that alcohol sales have increased 54% over the last year in stores and 262% online.
Are there fewer drunk drivers or are less being caught?
Drinking is still happening, but the signs are high that more people may be drinking at home instead of imbibing at parties and bars.
Is that enough, however, to account for the reduction in DWI arrests? In Sante Fe County, for example, there have been 38% fewer DWI arrests than last year at this time. New Mexico has seen an overall reduction of 41%. Deaths related to DWI wrecks are also lower.
Some of this may be attributed to the fact that people are drinking more at home, but there are also suggestions that enforcement efforts have also fallen by the wayside.
One thing is certain: Now that the figures are out and the authorities are paying attention to the shifts in behavior, you can probably expect enforcement to resume — and increase. If you’re charged with driving while impaired, make sure that you speak with an experienced attorney before you speak with the police.