A new report from the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) indicates the incidence of alcohol- and drug-related traffic deaths has increased by 6.17 percent this year, while arrests for DUIs have decreased by 5.63 percent in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Kurt Erickson, president of WRAP, says the data suggests that what’s causing the increase in deaths is an increase in use of drugs other than alcohol. Alcohol-related DUIs are not necessarily increasing, but drug-related DUIs are — especially in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

Pushing for more legislation

Each year, more than 16,700 people are arrested in the region for driving under the influence, and potentially thousands of other offenders are undetected. Research by Mothers Against Drunk Driving indicates a person arrested for drunk driving has likely been intoxicated behind the wheel at least 80 times before they are ever caught.

Erickson says police officers need to be put out on patrol in greater numbers to help curb the incidence of drunk driving and get arrest numbers back up. He believes law enforcement agencies are not staffed at appropriate levels.

He also believes more legislation is required to get tougher on drunk drivers. Maryland recently passed a law that requires the use of ignition interlock devices for anyone who is convicted of drunk driving. However, the most recent information reveals that just nine people are registered for having an ignition interlock device in stalled in their vehicle in the District of Columbia.

Maryland already has fairly strict DUI laws in place, as even a first offense could result up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines for the offender, in addition to community service.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in Maryland or Washington, D.C., reach out to a knowledgeable La Plata DUI defense lawyer with Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.