April 7, 2015
Drunk Driving Arrests Decline in Northeast Pennsylvania
A new report reveals that the number of arrests for drinking and driving has declined in Northeast Pennsylvania between 2010 and 2014. The Times-Tribune recently reported the Sunday Times analyzed arrest data over a five-year period and found that drunk driving arrests dropped about 17 percent – from 4,701 in 2010 to 3,887 in 2014. While DUI/DWI charges were down in the counties of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming, arrests for drinking in driving were actually up statewide over the same time period. There were 51,202 arrests in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 52,636 arrests in 2014.
Fewer drunk driving arrests is certainly good news for everyone who uses the roads in Scranton and throughout the seven-county region in Northeast Pennsylvania. But a DUI defense lawyer knows that drivers do get arrested every day on drunk driving charges. In fact, the Times-Tribune published statistics showing that there were 734 DUI arrests in 2014 in Lackawanna County alone (about two every day). That represents a 35 percent decline from 2010, when there were 1,122 arrests for drunk driving.
And it’s important to remember that just because an officer arrests a driver doesn’t mean that driver is guilty. Anyone who is charged with DUI has a right to fight the charges. Experienced DUI lawyers at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano defend people against these serious charges, which can result in fines, a loss of driving privileges and possibly a loss of freedom if sentenced to jail.
According to the Times-Tribune, the drop in arrests in our region does not necessarily mean fewer people are drinking and driving. The numbers simply reveal how many people have been nabbed by police. The newspaper quoted law enforcement officials who are calling for additional funding to beef up police resources.
Are Police Targeting Drugged Driving?
While drunk driving arrests may be down in Northeast Pennsylvania, drugged driving arrests appear to be soaring in the state, according to a LancasterOnline article. State officials have noted big increases in drug-related DUIs over the past 10 years. According to the newspaper, Lancaster County prosecuted about 600 drugged drivers in 2014. Lancaster County officials attribute the increase in drugged driving to the influx of heroin use in the area.
These cases can be more difficult for police than typically drunk driving arrests. That’s because there are no breath tests to determine if drivers have drugs in their system.
But with the increased awareness of drugged driving, it is likely law enforcement practices will shift to ensure that drugged drivers are identified and arrested. Law enforcement and lawmakers almost certainly will explore new ways to crack down on driving while under the influence of drugs.
While it’s important for police to keep roads safe for everyone, it’s also critically important to make sure the rights of those who are arrested are protected. If you’ve been arrested for DUI – whether it’s on suspicion of drunk driving or using drugs while operating a motor vehicle – you will need an experienced attorney who will help you build a strong defense.