Authorities: DUI arrests down dramatically during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 2:47 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Police agencies in the Tri-County area say the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a dramatic drop in the number of arrests for driving under the influence.

Authorities say the numbers are down most likely because bars are closed during the pandemic and fewer drivers are on the road.

We asked local police agencies for their DUI arrest numbers for March and April.

Charleston police report their officers made 28 arrests in March and only seven so far in April.

Charleston County deputies made 13 DUI arrests in March and only five so far in April.

The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office says their deputies haven’t made any DUI arrests since February 29.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office said there was no DUI arrests in March in their jurisdiction, and they don’t have numbers for April yet.

Only the North Charleston Police Department reported an increase in DUI arrests from March to April. A spokesman says there were 14 arrests in March and 16 so far this month.

Charleston defense attorney Tim Kulp says he’s not surprised by the numbers.

“That’s because no one’s really driving much and many people are being compliant with the recommendations or orders from government officials to stay home,” Kulp said Tuesday. “It’s an interesting see saw effect because liquor store sales are off the map.”

Kelly Martin DeHay is a member of We Save Lives, an organization that focuses on drunk driving awareness. DeHay’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2007.

DeHay is hoping people will learn to drink more responsibly by the time the bars reopen.

“I hope that they learn from this and I hope that people know that they need to make a plan before they drink when the bars open back up,” DeHay said.“Because you never make a good decision after you’ve started drinking. So make a plan on how you’re going to get home safely, keep yourself and others safe.”

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