How Has COVID-19 Impacted DUI Rates?


The outbreak of COVID-19 changed most of our lives instantly. Most of us haven't been driving as frequently as a result of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders.

Many of us are now going back to work and starting to resume our daily activities, but there are still significantly fewer people on the roads. Let's examine these trends in more detail and what this means for DUI rates.

During March and April, when bars and restaurants were closed, DUI arrests were at their lowest. In May and June, when the quarantines were coming to an end, some states already had DUI arrest increases close to pre-pandemic rates.  For example, Philadelphia had 176 DUI arrests in February, but in April, this number dropped to 69. By May, arrests were back up to 132.

Accidents and Fatality Rates in 2020

Drunk drivers, who cause an average of 29 deaths every day, are involved in 28% of traffic-related deaths. Over one million drivers received DUIs or DWIs in 2016, but this number only represents 1% of the self-reported cases.

In some states, DUI deaths increased during the first half of 2020. Colorado, for example, experienced death rates involving intoxicated drivers twice as high as in 2019. The state also had a 30% increase in DUI-related traffic accidents and reckless driving incidents.

DUI Arrests Before and During COVID-19

Quarantine restrictions resulted in considerably fewer vehicles on the streets during the first four months of the year. Additionally, many police officers chose to refrain from low-level traffic stops because of Coronavirus concerns. Still, alcohol consumption rose dramatically in some states, which didn't make the roads any safer. Some states also reported a rise in speeding violations.

State Arrests Pre-COVID-19 Arrests Post-COVID-19 Change
California 7,200 4,223 42% decrease
Colorado 8,500 11,220 32% increase
Florida 5,125 2,563 50% decrease
Philadelphia 660 500 32% decrease
Washington 3,877 2,110 46% decrease

In some areas of the country, police traffic stops dropped by 90%.

DUI Data and Statistics Across the United States

Although annual data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) isn't available until the end of the year, many states have already reported a reduction in DUI arrests.


Throughout the first half of 2020, traffic accidents and DUI arrests in California decreased.

  • DUI arrests declined 42% from 7,200 to 4,223
  • Accidents decreased by 75%
  • Truck collisions are down 60%
  • Injuries dropped 62%
  • Traffic deaths decreased by 88%

As lockdown comes to an end, it's still uncertain if these trends will continue.


Despite stay-at-home orders, Colorado experienced an increase in DUI traffic incidents and deaths.

  • From January to April, accidents involving intoxicated drivers increased by 32%
  • DUI deaths doubled

Arrest rates reflect the increase in traffic incidents.


In Florida, more people are staying home to consume alcohol, as the statistics show.

  • DUI arrests down by about 50%
  • 33% less DUI crashes
  • Fatalities down 50%

Typically, March is one of the worst months of the year for DUI accidents. This year, 15 crashes were reported, compared to 30 last year.


DUI arrests dropped significantly in Washington.

  • March, April, and May experienced a 46% decline in DUI arrests
  • 2,110 DUI arrests were made, compared to 3,877 for the same period in 2019.

The reduced incidents of arrests are primarily due to the police conducting fewer low-level traffic stops.

How Long Will This Change Last?

As the country copes with the Coronavirus health crisis, many states predict decreases in DUI rates and arrests. At the same time, other states and counties are predicting increases in DUIs. For example, Florida's Treasure Coast region reported 21% more arrests.

Another aspect to consider is that many people are now driving alone instead of with friends. Consequently, more people are drinking alone that would otherwise have a designated driver.

Now, it's too early to predict how these trends will evolve or if they will continue throughout the rest of the year. How the pandemic continues to unfold, and which restrictions remain in place will significantly impact the progression of DUI rates.

How Breathe Easy Can Help

A DUI offense can leave a permanent mark on your driving record, causing your auto insurance premiums to be double or triple. In the worst-case scenario, your coverage could even be canceled. Following a DUI charge, you'll need to send proof of insurance in the form of an SR-22 policy to your state motor vehicle department.

The penalties for driving while intoxicated vary from state to state, resulting in driver license suspensions, jail time, traffic citations, state-mandated DUI classes, and years of financial consequences. Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize or even dismiss the charges.

Breathe Easy Insurance can help you find affordable rates and comprehensive coverage following a DUI. Our services are available online. That way, you can stay safe from home, while we can send your SR-22 form to the DMV in 15 minutes or less.

To learn more about DUI Insurance Rates, contact the experts at Breathe Easy Insurance at 866-822-7755. Our knowledgeable insurance professionals can answer any questions you may have.

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