Quarantine cited as factor in DUI decline

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: A CHP officer in writes down information during a DUI traffic stop.

Fewer parties, outings and bar tabs have translated to a dip in DUI arrests for the first half of 2020, according to both Santa Clarita Valley law enforcement agencies.

A comparison of arrests on intoxicated driving charges for Jan. 1 to June 1, 2020, shows a little over an 11% decline from the same period in 2019.

“I would say the main reason they are lower is due to COVID-19,” said Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, who heads up the SCV Sheriff’s Station Traffic Management Office. “For the most part, bars and restaurants have been closed for several months.”

For the SCV Sheriff’s Station, the total number of DUI arrests between Jan. 1 of this year and July 1 was 141. The total number last year during this same time period was 189, for a 34% difference.

“Additionally, social gatherings have been scaled back or stopped because of state and county restrictions,” Shoemaker added.

And the CHP Newhall-area Office also reported a lower number of DUI-related arrests. Between Jan. 1 and July 1, there were a total of 304 DUI arrests by CHP officers; and during the same time last year, there were 312 DUI arrests. This is a difference of eight arrests, or 2.6%. The total SCV-wide decrease was 11.1%.

Officer Josh Greengard, a spokesman for the local CHP office, agreed with the Sheriff’s Station’s assessment.

“People are scared to go out and a lot of bars and restaurants are closed,” said Greengard. “There’s a lack of motor transports and people aren’t driving around.”

While there might be fewer motorists, infractions and events, or other factors altogether contributing to the smaller number of arrests, Greengard said law enforcement officers are still on the lookout for drunk or otherwise intoxicated drivers.

During their most recent maximum enforcement period, for example, when CHP patrols for times like holidays with its largest deployments, there was an uptick in arrests over the Fourth of July weekend from this year compared to last year.

Deputies and officers combined for 10 DUI arrests over this year’s Fourth of July weekend, despite many events having been canceled, and bars closed, compared to half that number in 2019.

“The guys still go out and do the job asked of them,” said Greengard.

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