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Dry Counties: Do They Reduce DWI Accidents?
February 14, 2013
Although somewhat rare, there are still many dry counties in the United States, and some states have more dry counties than wet counties. A dry county is one in which bars, restaurants and stores are not allowed to sell alcohol, even if the state regulates alcohol in other counties. The purpose of a dry county is to cut down on alcohol-related accidents, but some startling statistics may prove that this model actually increases the likelihood of an alcohol-related accident or DUI.
In 2006, data compiled by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis showed that dry counties saw 6.8 fatalities per 10,000 people from alcohol-related accidents, but wet counties, or counties that allow alcohol sales, only saw 1.9 fatalities from alcohol-related accidents per 10,000 people. While this seems to clearly show that dry counties have more deaths due to alcohol, one needs to also consider population density.
For instance, in Texas, between 2001 and 2005, there were 46 dry counties and 38 wet counties. The dry counties, while larger in numbers, were home to just under 900,000 people, while wet counties were home to over nine million people. During this period, dry counties saw 574 alcohol-related accident deaths, but wet counties saw 1,840. Although the wet counties had more deaths, they also had a much larger population.
Why Does This Happen?
One explanation for the amount of alcohol-related accidents in dry counties is that people need to drive further and for longer to obtain alcohol. If you live in a dry county, you may find yourself having to drive to the next county over or further in order to drink, and this means more time spent on the road while intoxicated. In many cases, dry counties are often in rural areas, and this can also add to the need to drive further to reach a county that sells alcohol.
In addition, some experts believe that police are not looking for drunk drivers in dry counties because those counties are supposed to be dry. This can then lead to intoxicated drivers flying under the radar until an accident occurs. As a result, even in dry counties where alcohol-related accidents are high, DUI numbers may not correlate. It’s important to keep in mind that statistics can only be kept on people who get caught, not on people who don’t. An Orlando criminal defense attorney might tell you that, in many instances, wet counties will have higher rates of DUI arrest even if they have lower rates of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.
The Best Thing to Do
No matter what type of county you live in, it’s always best to avoid drinking and driving. If you live in a dry county and you want to drink, go to a wet county and purchase alcohol that you can safely bring home and enjoy. If you live in a wet county and you go out to a bar, always have a designated driver with you to get home safely.
Tags: Dry Counties, DWI Accidents, Guest Post
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