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DUI arrests down; are drunk-driving accidents down, too?

Studies released a few months ago showed that arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California had fallen sharply in the state's biggest cities, perhaps because of the growth of services such as Lyft and Uber.

In San Diego, the number of arrests had fallen by 32 percent. In San Jose, it was 28 percent, and in Sacramento, 26 percent. In Los Angeles, the arrests were down 14 percent.

The growth of ride-sharing services has kept people who are legally intoxicated from getting behind the wheel. You would think that would correlate to fewer DUI-related fatalities across California, but that impact is unclear.

In fact, DUI fatalities – which occur when drivers have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or greater – increased 16.3 percent from 2015 to 2016. In real numbers, there were 911 DUI fatalities in 2015 and 1,059 the following year. One study showed that drunk driving deaths dropped by 3.6 percent in the state's urban communities.

California officials continue to work to try to keep people from drinking and driving, including by encouraging restaurants to offer discounts for nonalcoholic drinks and appetizers so that drivers will have incentive to choose not to drink and drive.

As Californians, we can hope that the drop in DUI arrests will severely curtail the number of people killed or injured in drink driving accidents. We aren't there yet, however. If you or a family member has been injured by a drunk driver, a California attorney can help you determine how to recoup your losses from medical bills, lost wages and more.

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