Rideshare companies do not appear to be lowering the overall number of people arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in the Columbus area. Many individuals who choose to use Uber or Lyft instead of driving drunk or drugged may avoid charges, but the overall numbers don’t show a trend towards reduced OVI arrests. The numbers are also unclear for the rest of the country.
Franklin County Statistics Don’t Show a Connection
Uber started operating in Ohio in 2013 and Lyft began the following year. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Operational Reports from 2014 to 2019, Franklin County has not seen any downward numbers in the following statistics:
|Year||OVI Arrests||OVI/Reckless Driving Calls|
Uber Claims It’s Making Communities Safer
Some studies claim to show Uber reduces the number of intoxicated drivers where they operate, according to Forbes.
- A study by Temple University researchers stated in California cities there was a reduction in drinking and driving deaths between 3.6 and 5.6 percent on weekdays between 2009 to 2014. No impact was found on weekends
- Uber reported in a 2014 blog post a ten percent decrease in DUI arrests in Seattle after the company started there
- A report by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stated the company prevented as many as 1,800 drunk driving accidents in California from 2012 to 2015
ProPublica looked into the report by Uber and MADD and found the facts didn’t meet their claims. They followed up on the study with MADD. ProPublica was told the numbers of increased Uber use and decreased drunk driving accidents happened at the same time, not that Uber use caused the decline in accidents.
Uber stated the reduction in crashes was the result of fewer drunk driving accidents by those 30 and younger. The company stated most of its customers are in this age group, but didn’t provide any facts backing that up. It also cited an analysis of decreased drunk driving arrests as showing less accidents, something it didn’t do.
Several Studies Have Inconsistent Findings
A study by University of Pennsylvania researchers, reported in The Verge, had mixed results. They looked at the effects of ridesharing services in four cities. Researchers stated there was a correlation between Uber and a decline in drunk driving, but not everywhere. Some of the variables impacting the results could be how strongly a city enforces drunk driving laws and how big a percentage of those in a city were tourists, who are more likely to use Uber.
The New York Times found mixed messages in Uber studies as well:
- Research looking at drunk driving accidents in New York City (but not Staten Island) found that five years after the company started its service, the number dropped 25% to 35% or about 160 fewer accidents per month
- A 2016 study of 100 densely populated counties across the US found no connection between Uber use and the number of traffic fatalities
- Uber service resulted in lower fatal accident rates across the country, according to a study by researchers at West Carolina University published in 2016
There’s not much hard data to support broad claims rideshare companies have had a definite impact anywhere, including Columbus. But any transportation alternative to driving while impaired (including taxis, mass transit, walking, or using designated drivers) will have an effect. It may also prevent an arrest for OVI.
Have You Been Arrested for OVI? If so, Luftman, Heck & Associates Can Help
An OVI conviction may result in prison time, a fine, and it may prevent you from job opportunities in the future. With the help of Luftman, Heck & Associates, you will understand all of your best defenses and options during an OVI case. We will protect your rights and make sure law enforcement and the courts respect them throughout the criminal justice process.