Maryland’s SPIDRE Is Catching More Drunk Drivers in Its Web Lately. What’s Going On?
Cops in Maryland appear to have their hands – and their back seats – full. A surprising number of DUI arrests have been recorded lately. For example, 80 drivers were arrested in just one weekend. One offender managed to get caught twice in one night.
Worse, the drivers seem to be more intoxicated than usual. The State Police SPIDRE (State Police Impaired Driving Effort) Unit, part of a program which targets areas with high rates of drunk driving crashes, reported that the average BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of offenders was more than twice the legal limit.
For the record, a .17 BAC is very, very intoxicated. At that level a person has difficulty holding a conversation, much less a steering wheel.
What’s the explanation for Maryland’s upswing in super-drunk drivers? It’s possible that light drinkers are obeying the law. Anti-DUI efforts have been widely publicized, and perhaps the educational efforts have hit home with people who might otherwise have been careless. Problem drinkers, however, might still be getting too drunk to make the right decision. As a result, the percentage of high-BAC DUIs goes up.
That doesn’t explain the high arrest numbers, however. One hopes that the police are just getting better at their job, and nabbing more impaired drivers on the road. However, only time and more analysis will tell whether this surge is an anomaly or a worrying trend.
Until we know, be careful on Maryland roads. And be grateful that SPIDRE and the rest of the State Police are working towards the state’s goal of zero drunk driving fatalities.