Miami Sees 65 Percent Drop in DUIs, Thanks in Part to Ridesharing

But other cities want to crack down on the services anyway.


Dmitry Kalinovsky/Dreamstime.com

DUI arrests have plummeted in the Miami area. The Miami Herald reports that activists and public safety officials are giving partial credit to ridesharing services.

"Ride-sharing has definitely impacted things," Lt. Joaquin Freire, who commands the city's traffic enforcement unit, tells the Herald. "There's always an Uber around."

"We know it's had an impact," adds David Pinsker of Florida's Mothers Against Drunk Driving branch. "I can say that certainly."

Drunk driving arrests made by the Miami-Dade County police force are down some 65 percent, falling from over 1,500 in 2015 to 594 in 2017. Arrests by Miami city police have fallen by a smaller but still significant 35 percent from 2015. (Uber and Lyft both started operating in the city in mid-2014.)

The drop in arrests has come hand-in-hand with safer roads. Forty-two fewer people died on Miami's roads in 2017 than did in 2015. And though the raw number of traffic accidents has ticked up slightly in Miami-Dade County—not surprisingly, given the growth in both population and vehicle miles travelled—traffic injuries are down in real terms.

Correlation does not equal causation, of course; many factors could be contributing to the fall in both DUIs and traffic fatalities. Nevertheless, there are good reasons to think that ridesharing can claim a good deal of responsibility.

According to a February 2018 study from the Shared Use Mobility Center, Uber and Lyft use is at its peak during nights and weekends, when drivers are more likely to be both drunk and bereft of public transit options. Being able to summon a car at the touch of a button no doubt keeps a lot of these weekend warriors from getting behind the wheel.

A similar phenomenon can be observed at the national level. Drunk driving deaths have fallen from a high of .45 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles travelled a decade ago to .33 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles travelled today.

Academic research is also increasing suggesting that ridesharing brings down alcohol-related crashes in most cities.

A 2016 study on the topic found no relationship between the number of drunk driving fatalities and the introducing of rideshare services in 100 cities across the country. But this study depended on data from 2009 to 2014, just as ridesharing was really taking off and before the fall in DUI arrests in late-adopting cities like Miami.

Subsequent investigations have turned up significant safety improvements. A 2017 study, for example, looked at crash data from four cities—Portland, Reno, Las Vegas, and San Antonio—where Uber and Lyft experienced month-long pauses in their operations. They found a 60 percent decline in crashes in Portland when ridesharing returned, and a 40 percent decline in San Antonio. Researchers found no effect in Las Vegas or Reno. (That may be because those cities are big tourist destinations, where most drunks are out-of-towners choosing between an Uber and a cab, not an Uber and their personal vehicle.) And a 2017 working paper from the City University of New York attributed a 23 to 35 percent decline in alcohol-related collision rates to the introduction of ridesharing in New York City.

Yet more and more cities are looking to restrict these services. Washington, D.C., upped its tax on rideshare trips by 500 percent in June, justifying the move in part as a way for Uber to pay for the increased congestion it has allegedly caused. San Francisco politicians are trying something similar. In New York City, political will is increasingly coalescing behind a proposal to cap the number of rideshare vehicles.

The main effect of such measures will be to limit people's transportation options. To the extent that this applies to people who've had a few too many while out on the town, that will likely mean more intoxicated people getting behind the wheel—and, thus, more accidents.

NEXT: What We Talk About When Talk About Russian Meddling: Talk

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Sounds like they will need to lower the DUI BAC limit. Gotta keep those DUI dollars flowing…for the children of course.

  2. After lowering the BAC in Utah to .05, some politicians admitted the change was partially motivated by the fact that DUI arrests had fallen. Got to keep collecting that revenue–even if it means destroying innocent people’s lives. Got a DUI 6 years ago, and I can tell you it’s not a good experience and it continues to haunt me to this day.

  3. Thanks ‘in part’ to ridesharing?

    Do you think there were no taxis waiting around outside bars before Uber and Lyft?

    Taxis you could call?

    You probably do, don’t you?

    1. I never saw any taxis waiting outside bars.
      And it’s way easier to get an Uber or Lyft ride on your smart phone, than to search for a taxi company number, and then hope they will show up who nows how much later.

      1. It’s so much easier to have one number pre-set on your phone than another.

        I bet you believe that.

        And–teen scoop–no matter who you call, you still have to wait around until they show up. Lyft and Uber cars don’t just materialize when you use the app.

        1. Good on you Azaroth for not falling for all the actual evidence that rideshares are more popular than taxis. It must be some other magic that reduced the DUI rate.

        2. You have clearly never used either service…

        3. Uber and Lyft are also much less expensive than a taxi. Usually cleaner, amd with better drivers.

    2. You know how many people I’ve spoken to who say the service provided by (regulatory-protected) cab companies was satisfactory? 0 FUCKING %, asshole, 0%. Not a single person, out of over 100, said the cab was adequate.

      Now, you might say that since all those people were using Uber, it’s a self-selected sample, but since, happily, that’s now 90% of all people, it’s pretty much “everybody”. You sullen ex-cab drivers are left to produce innumerate videos about how “Uber drivers lose money with every mile driven!”.

      You’re not only derp-de-durrr stupid, but mean-spirited derp-de-durrr stupid. Go to hell. You should have done more with your government bought-and-paid-for monopoly than just smugly take advantage, but too late now. Good riddance.

    3. Not really, if it’s like most party sections of town you have to call and wait a half hour if they even come at all; not so with uber, usually you’re running out of the bar because the uber/lyft is so close. They are just way more efficient than taxis.

  4. Here in our mid size city there is only one taxi company who gave horrid service. 45 minutes was the usual wait time if they bothered to show up at all. Uber has been a wonderful option and happily our city hasn’t been focused on running them out of town. 5 minutes is the usual wait time to be picked up. The local college students use it frequently.

  5. Well , they will just need to make the penalties more draconian ! . The Cities will not stand for this loss in revenue !
    Lower legal limit to .02 and make the fines $10k ! Coppers will not stand for the loss in bonus money for their DUI arrests .something needs to be done!

    1. Why not just raise the tax on drinks and let the cops chill?

  6. We know it’s had an impact,” adds David Pinsker of Florida’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving branch.

    Impact is probably not the word they want to use. Avoiding impacts should be their goal, and it looks like it has been largely achieved.

    1. The original name for this branch of the Wizened Christian Temperance Union was Mothers For Cops Shooting Citizens, or MOFOCOS.

  7. Seems that the reduction in casualty rates is the salient point in the article. DUI is primarily for public safety, moving the definition around is a revenue thing. The article implies DUI rates correlate to accident rates, and ride share is a factor making the roads safer.

    Politicians who legislate to protect a special interest group over public safety are, for want of a better definition: Politicians. Disappointing when rhetoric is applied to obfuscate straight forward facts.

    1. It’s like the cities who lower yellow light intervals at intersections with red light camera surveillance. They don’t give a shit about safety, it’s all about the revenue.

  8. Maybe it’s all of the fancy bike Lanes cities have used road funds to build? Of course you can still get a DUI on a bicycle, however lightly enforced.

    The latest is that bike lanes are white Lanes. A disproportionate number of people of color use bike Lanes, therefore they are inherently racist.

  9. Now you see the real reason the anti-life want to ban Uber, Lyft et alii…

  10. Man, if this doesn’t scream “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”, nothing does.

  11. Siohvaughn Funches is a famous Public speaker, Christian Counselor, and creator and Siohvaughn Funches born in The America.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.