Drinking and driving arrests in East Lansing decreasing

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Employee talking about drinking and driving

“Actually, since I’ve worked here for only a couple months now, I have not seen one drunk person get into their car and drive ‘cause they would either ask us for the phone or if we had cellphones so that we could call their friend to pick them up,” said Maginity, employee at the 7-Eleven in downtown East Lansing.

Over the last six years, arrests made for drinking and driving in East Lansing have decreased. The question is then, what is the community doing differently now to prevent drinking and driving?

According to state police records, Ingham County had 1,613 drinking and driving arrests in 2010, 641 of those were just from the City of East Lansing.

Figure 1 shows the number of arrests from 2006 to 2016 in Ingham County. Figure 2 shows the number of arrests just in the City of East Lansing from 2010 to 2016.

chart of drinking and driving arrests

Figure 1

Table of drinking and driving arrests in East Lansing

Figure 2

Lt. Chad Connelly said that when he first started working for the East Lansing Police Department in 1998, there were very few cab companies.

“Now there are multiple cab companies, there’s Uber, there’s Lyft… and I think that has aided in the decrease number of drunk driving arrests that we are experiencing.”

Uber is considered a transportation network company, where passengers use their mobile phones to contact nearby drivers, according to an East Lansing press release about disbanding the Greater Lansing Taxi Authority. Since its launch in 2009, Uber has spread to more than 632 cities worldwide, the Lansing area being one of them, according to Uber.com. However, the number of arrests for drinking and driving had been decreasing before 2009, so what else could be the reason for the decrease in drinking and driving?

Casey Comstock, general manager of Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub, said East Lansing’s decision to make a designated cab location has helped reduce arrests.

“I think the biggest thing was like 10 years ago when they decided to have this parking for the cab companies…” said Comstock. “The city made this whole Albert Street after 6 p.m. a cab area, which was a big debate in City Council as to where that was going to be.”

Justin Hrcka, a bartender at The Riv, said another reason drinking and driving could have gone down is because bars are taking care of their customers like family.

“Some things that (The Riv) does is if people are too drunk we try to get them an Uber,” said Hrcka. “Even if they might not be willing to drive home but walk home they might hurt themselves, so we try to give out Ubers.”

Jessica Maginity, 19, works at the 7-Eleven in downtown East Lansing. Because of 7-Eleven’s central location, she sees a lot, but not anybody getting into the driver’s seat drunk.

“Actually, since I’ve worked here for only a couple months now, I have not seen one drunk person get into their car and drive ‘cause they would either ask us for the phone or if we had cellphones so that we could call their friend to pick them up,” said Maginity.

However, Connelly says that the biggest reason arrests have gone down is the amount of education that is out there about drinking and driving.

“When I started working there wasn’t nearly as much information that was put out there about drinking and driving and today, kids in school, from middle school forward, are getting a ton of education and it’s helping to curb some of the people who would have chosen to drive otherwise.”

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