Any news about Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests is always grim. Rates are going up, experts say, and they point to increasing college enrollment as part of the problem. But is this truly the case? Examining this situation shows that this problem is much deeper and complex.
College Enrollment Rates Have Gone Up
College has become more important to personal success than ever and is something that has seen a dramatic increase in recent decades. For example, since 1970, enrollment rates have skyrocketed by 195%, producing a staggering number of students throughout the nation.
And while it is also true that the yearly crash rate (25,000 in 1970) due to alcohol has decreased during that time (10,000 in recent years), this number doesn’t reflect the higher volume of DUI rates throughout much of the nation particularly in college towns.
Does this mean that there is a direct connection between college enrollment and DUI arrests? The news seems to suggest so, with many dire predicts plaguing the airwaves. So let’s take a deeper look at this situation to engage more honestly with the problem and figure out what is happening here.
College Drinking is a Problem
While not every college student drinks alcohol, studies show a vast majority do enjoy drinks. For example, a study found that 80% of college students regularly drink alcohol, compared to the around 55% drinking average for the rest of the nation. There are many reasons for this higher increase in consumption.
First, college is a time of personal experimentation and freedom. Young adults away from their parents often get out of control and have a bit too much fun. Perhaps that’s why some college towns report binge-drinking rates as high as 23% of all students in the school. This number is dangerously high.
Such heavy drinking will inevitably lead to problems like fistfights between drunk students, potentially poor decision-making skills, and even driving while intoxicated. As a result, DUI rates in college towns are often relatively high and can be very dangerous to people who live in these communities.
DUI Rates Increase Heavily in College Towns
When you check the DUI rates in college towns, you’re likely to see considerable increases in these arrests. There are many reasons for this situation. Obviously, a large population of students drinking alcohol will inevitably lead to more DUI arrests and situations. However, there’s more to it than that.
For example, people under the age of 21 might get charged with a DUI even if their BAC is below the state’s legal limit (such as 0.08%). Any detectable alcohol might get them arrested, even if it’s so low they couldn’t possibly be affected. Such arrests dramatically increase DUI rates.
Naturally, police also heavily patrol known college houses or fraternity areas and watch for cars driving even slightly erratically. This vigilance catches a higher number of potential drunk drivers and increases DUI arrest rates exponentially, leading to a higher correlation between admissions and DUI arrests.
Steps to Help Manage This Situation
Many college towns help fight this problem by setting up drinking education websites. College students who understand the risk of drinking through better education may avoid driving drunk. Set up a website and provide information, making sure to do what you can to stand out as, globally, around 1.8 billion websites operate simultaneously.
Likewise, many college towns are improving ride-sharing programs, even providing free rides to intoxicated college students. Some even offer car transportation options for students worried about leaving their vehicle somewhere unsafe and who want to drive it away.
The news needs to highlight more programs like these and spread data about the fight against DUI arrests in college towns. By focusing on the positive changes taking place in many areas, they may make it easier for many colleges to improve the quality of life for their students.