Statewide DUI arrest totals show small rise

Numbers decrease on local level

The number of statewide DUI arrests in 2018 rose by 1 percent from the previous year, according to recently released state police totals. Meanwhile, the city’s closest barracks shows a 28 percent decrease in the crime.

In 2018, Pennsylvania had 20,143 DUI arrests, compared to 19,963 arrests in 2017, continuing a slow-rising trend in the state.

Since 2014, there has been a 12 percent rise in DUI arrests.

The Montoursville state police barracks reported 229 DUI arrests in 2018, which is down from 318 arrests in 2017.

These kinds of changes are “relatively standard,” said Trooper Ryan Tarkowski, state police communications director.

“Our troopers are out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week patrolling the roads, watching for tired or distracted drivers. We have a zero-tolerance approach towards any kind of impaired driving,” he said.

People who have taken illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs also may be considered driving impaired.

“If you’re driving while impaired, you can be arrested for DUI,” he said.

Though Tarkowski said he wouldn’t speculate on the causes of the recent spike in arrests. The totals show driving while intoxicated isn’t going away.

“It just goes to show that the DUI, despite our best efforts through education and enforcement, still remains a very serious problem in the Commonwealth and beyond,” he said.

With ridesharing apps, taxis, or finding a designated driver, Tarkowski said there’s no reason to drive while intoxicated.

“There’s any number of ways to avoid a DUI, it’s not something that anybody wants to go through,” he said. “Beyond putting your own life and other people’s lives at risk. It’s a costly, expensive process that can lead to serious fines, losing your license and even jail time.”

The state police work to educate the public by sending community service officers out into schools, community grounds and businesses to give talks on personal safety and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

“First responders see the devastating effects of impaired driving every day,” Colonel Robert Evanchick, state police commander, said in a press release. “Through a combination of education and enforcement, we continue to work with our law enforcement and safety partners to address this serious issue.”

Evanchick said it’s up to the driver to ensure they set themselves up for safe travels.

“Every motorist has the responsibility to keep themselves and others safe by wearing their seatbelt, eliminating distractions,” he said.