Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Texas' unnoticed reduction in alcohol-related crimes: DWI and 'drunkenness' arrests way down

An observant commenter suggested declines in DWI cases may have contributed to plummeting misdemeanor probation caseloads, and he raises a good point. Grits replied thusly in the comments:
Re: DWI arrest stats* (see historical statewide arrest data here): 
2010 Texas adult DWI arrests: 94,236
2016 Texas adult DWI arrests: 62,216 
Also, arrests for "drunkenness" (public intoxication?): 
2010: 130,564
2016: 64,120 
And as you know, traffic ticket numbers have significantly declined
For that matter, on "all other" offenses, excluding traffic: 
2010: 320,492
2016: 225,924 
So, ... I have to wonder if the DWI reductions are part of broader trends involving alcohol, as implied by reductions in drunkenness, part of a trend in traffic enforcement, as implied by the reduction in overall traffic tickets, part of a more generalized crime reduction, as implied by the reduction in the "all other" category, or, as you imply (and as I've suggested before), maybe it's a policy shift in part reacting to excessive surcharges, as some Texas prosecutors and judges have suggested. Or none of these things. Or all of them, and more. ¿Quien sabe? 
But you're 100% right, that's a big reduction, and one of which the press and the public are largely unaware.
Big picture: Traffic fatalities in Texas remained more or less level over this period, even as the population boomed and DWI arrests dropped more than a third. So there hasn't been any notable public safety reduction from the decline in traffic and DWI enforcement. Indeed, as I implied at the end of my reaction to the commenter, it appears hardly anyone has noticed or minded at all, except the probation directors and criminal-defense lawyers whose revenue plunged with the drop in cases.

* While 2017 data is out for Texas courts, we haven't seen data more recently than FY 2016 (which ended 21 months ago) on either arrests (DPS) or prison/parole/probation systems (TDCJ). Hard to understand why the OCA can get its annual statistical data from a decentralized court system out more promptly, but for DPS and TDCJ , annualized data is nearly a year old when they finally release it. State political leaders should care about such delays. It's impossible to manage what one cannot measure.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the various sobering centers opened by the major cities have something to do with the reduction in PI's? Austin's handles thousands a year from what I'm led to believe, Houston's is very active, and San Antonio's is reportedly just as popular. I suspect traffic enforcement is down all over the state due to manpower issues, at least in the larger cities, which means less opportunities to catch DWI offenders, but this hasn't gone unnoticed, even if the impact is less than previously predicted.

Anonymous said...

Could be No Smoking contributed to this good news

Anonymous said...

Two of my personal theories, and they may be just based in hearsay and assumptions, but I know MANY more people who I am familiar with are using Lyft, Uber, and other ride sharing when they go out for happy hours or weekend drinks. I wonder if there is a correlation in the drop in DWI with the expansion of those services? Also speaking to a local judge that I know who oversees a DWI Court he has opined that DWI placements are way down in his jurisdiction and that he felt there was a correlation between the redeployment of local DPS troopers to the border. He said DPS made up the majority of their local DWI arrest. It would be interesting to see if there was any actual link between the border surge and decreases in local DWI arrest. (I know these are not things Grits has access to, but just curiosity on my part.)

Anonymous said...

Felonies are where the Texas gravy train for the courts can be found. Federal revenue sharing for each year that a felon spends in a state level prison runs roughly $8,500.00 per year or more. Small wonder that judges, Texas in particular, just love to dish our 20, 30, 40 year or more sentences. Another example of WMW--white man's welfare for the courts and bar associations.

Federal revenue sharing programs that feed TDCJ are a rich crop for Grits to harvest.

Senate and House judiciary and appropriations committee members are a great source for the data that few politicians want the public to be aware of.

Your tax dollars at work----yeah right---this huge self licking ice cream cone needs to be put under an electron microscope.

Anonymous said...

Grits, it appears that lame duck Abel Reyna won't go quietly. He's determined to bankrupt the county. This is some of the most unbelievable shit you've ever seen. Abel is a typical psychopath who cannot accept defeat (kinda like that idiot in the White House):

Anonymous said...

if young people were to wise up and do their drinking and pot smoking at home instead of using their vehicles as party platforms the prison population might he halved in a few years