In one study of drunk driving rates nationwide, Pennsylvania fell in the middle of the pack. Compiling information from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and federal crime reports, a drug testing firm ranked states to determine the frequency of DUI incidents. In 2018, Pennsylvania came in 24th for DUI arrests. For every 100,000 state residents, there were 346.8 arrests for drunk driving. Fewer people have been accused of DUI in recent years, with an 8.3% decrease in arrests from 2014 and a sharper 18.4% fall since 2009.
In 2009, Pennsylvania actually saw its highest rate of DUI arrests, with a rate of 424.7 arrests for every 100,000 residents. The downward trend in Pennsylvania mirrors that around the world. Over the past decade, drunk driving arrests fell by 35% across the country, with only three states seeing a rise in DUI incidents over that period. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that there are 130,000,000 examples of drunk driving that take place every year. Men make up over 75% of people charged with DUI nationwide.
The nature of DUI charges is changing, however. With the rise of cannabis decriminalization and legalization in many states, law enforcement agencies are highlighting “drugged driving” charges. Unlike with alcohol, there is no single, accepted standard by which cannabis consumption is considered intoxication. There is also no easy, clear roadside test, such as the Breathalyzer, to measure a driver’s cannabis consumption.
Of course, even those tests can be questionable; many machines are poorly maintained or run by untrained police. The results of a DUI conviction can be costly and damaging, so people facing charges may work with a criminal defense attorney to aim to prevent a conviction or reduce the charges.