Drunk Driving Stats Show Decrease Nationwide, But New Jersey Arrests Holding Steady

One would think that with all the extra anti-drunken driving enforcement across this state that surely New Jersey would be experiencing a decrease in DWIs just like the rest of the nation. Apparently, that’s hardly the case. Whether due to what some might call “over-enforcement” or because the Garden State has such a large population that it tends to set its own standards, one thing is for certain: this is not the place to get behind the wheel in anything near an impaired condition.

From Passaic to Ocean and Bergen to Cape May County, local and state police are constantly on the alert for any motorist that may be inebriated. Intoxication due to beer, wine or hard liquor; or impairment from prescription medication or even illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana, this state’s law enforcement community is reportedly racking up its share of DWI and drug DUI arrests on a weekly basis.

As New Jersey drunk drivin defense attorneys, we know how easy it can be to be stopped on the road while legally intoxicated. Even those people who believe whole-heartedly that they are not drunk have been arrested and taken before a magistrate to face stiff penalties for DWI, DUI, breath test refusal and other drunk driving-related charges.

A recent news article seems to indicate that, here in New Jersey, the number of arrests for driving under the influence is not declining in concert with the nationwide drop in drunk drivers. What does it mean? Well, it would appear that New Jersey drivers in places such as Ocean County’s Barnegat Twp. need to consider that local police are still out in force, arresting drunken drivers and handing out summonses at about the same rate as in prior years.

According to news reports, studies on the frequency of DWI occurrences across the country indicate that instances of drinking and driving are actually decreasing. But as a counterpoint to this fairly good news for traffic safety advocates is the relatively unchanged DWI arrest totals coming out of New Jersey municipalities. Based on data coming out of town like Barnegat, DWI arrest rates show that in the Garden State, at least, drunken driving is probably not trending lower.

The data for the national studies reportedly comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; these latest statistics show a definite drop in the instances of motorists driving while under the influence of alcohol, which show a nationwide average reduction of 30 percent over the past five years.

Taking Barnegat Township as an example of New Jersey’s relatively steady stream of drunken driving arrests, local police say that while there has been a reduction in arrests for driving while in intoxicated in recent years, that drop averaged only eight percent when comparing 2011 DWI arrests against the average number from 2007 to 2010.

According to the Barnegat Police Department, DWI arrests have maintained a fairly consistent level over the past several years, which in pure numbers adds up to around 80 arrests per year (one DWI arrest every four or five days). It’s interesting to note that the township itself has a population of around 21,000 people.

Of course, when comparing local police records to that of the CDC’s drunken driving data, it’s difficult to draw any specific conclusions. However, according to the CDC, less than one percent of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes actually result in an arrest for driving under the influence. All of which might say more for the intensity of New Jersey’s anti-DWI police enforcement activities as compared to that of the rest of the country.

Drunken Driving Down, But Local Data Says DWI Arrests Consistent, Patch.com, October 12, 2011