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California Criminal DUI Profiles & Ridesharing

Will the ridesharing industry have an impact on arrest rates and the typical Criminal DUI profile?

Hispanic males have been arrested at a higher rate than other races/ethnicities in California for over a decade. According to California Highway Patrol, the average total cost of a DUI is approximately $13,500.00, including fines & penalties, insurance, vehicle towing & storage, DUI classes, legal fees, and car insurance increases.

Will the ridesharing industry help to change the face of the average DUI criminal while helping to reduce DUI arrest rates?

A Decline in California DUI Criminal Arrests



According to the most recent data available – collected by the DMV from 2008  – 2013, the number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers in California have decreased by an average of 6.53% per year over this six-year time frame.




Although the number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers has been decreasing steadily since 2008, the sharpest decrease can be found between 2012 - 2013, at 9.37%.

Has the ridesharing industry played a significant role in these numbers? Uber launched in 2010 in San Francisco, and Lyft followed their lead in 2012.

The Department of Motor Vehicles 2015 Annual Report to the Legislature of California reported 2008 as the highest year for DUI arrests, topping out at a total of 214,811. By 2013, that number dropped to 160,388. At first glance, it appears that the growth of the ridesharing industry has had a direct impact on California DUI rates. A deeper dive into data, such as state initiatives and demographics, is required before drawing broad conclusions.

California Police Response

California police department policies and law enforcement initiatives have also played a role in these DUI statistics.

Measures such as sobriety checkpoints, proactive controls, joint task force operations between departments, and cost recovery programs were all launched in an attempt to combat the issue. 2010 was declared as “The Year of the Checkpoint” for high-risk corridors within the state.

California prevention initiatives may have reduced drunken driving behavior by increasing awareness and compliance with the law, accounting for fewer arrests. Or, a combination of these initiatives combined with the growth and popularity of the ridesharing industry lead to a reduction in DUI behavior and arrests. Currently, there are no large-scale studies to draw a specific conclusion.

California Ridesharing and the DUI Criminal Profile

If the growth of the Ridesharing industry plays a role in reducing DUI arrests in the state of California, shouldn’t it also play a role in changing the demographics of the typical DUI criminal?



The average age of a Criminal DUI arrest in the state of California remained at 30 years of age in the immediate years before and after the launch of ridesharing companies throughout the state.

According to a 5i Solutions Study, the majority of ridesharing users are between the ages of 25-34. If the ridesharing industry were significantly impacting DUI arrest rates within their user population, wouldn’t the data show a small change in the average age of the criminal DUI offender and show an increase in an age bracket does not use ridesharing? Not necessarily. In 2013 alone, more than half of all arrestees were age 30 or younger, and almost three-quarters were age 40 or younger. Years 2008 - 2012 show similar numbers, with the majority of offenders falling below the age of 40.

According to the Pew Research Center, ridesharing usage is highest among college graduates and affluent Americans. According to the same report, “There are no substantial differences in ride-hailing usage across gender or racial lines: Men and women are equally likely to use these services, as are white, blacks and Latinos.”

By offering an alternative at the fingertips of the app user, ridesharing should, theoretically, reduce the number of drivers who operate vehicles on while under the influence. Very few people leave the house with the intention of taking such a risky gamble later in the night, so if an app can quickly diffuse a risky situation, surely this positive effect will reach across lines of race and ethnicity?


In 2015, Uber launched an ESPAÑOL option for all users.

Photo Credit: Uber Newsroom

In a world of equal opportunity and diversity agendas, it’s important to consider demographics when analyzing DUI criminal arrests and explore options to help reduce those numbers. The financial burden of a DUI arrest can have severe long-term effects on offenders, their relationships and families, and future outlooks.


In 2009 – as California police were rolling out their DUI crackdown measures across the state – a San Francisco company launched its game-changing service into the field of public transport. That company was Uber. The brand has since expanded across the state, quickly followed by competitor Lyft, and now followed by Alphabet, Google’s new ridesharing service. Together, these companies are changing the face of public transport users. Recent compromises between the California legislature and the ridesharing companies on insurance requirements point to signs of even more growth and popularity.

According to KQED News, researchers from Temple University in Philadelphia published a study that attributes a 3.6 to 5.6 percent decline in drunken driving deaths after studying data across 14 California counties. As more and more unbiased studies are published and the data is analyzed, the ridesharing industry is in a position to make America’s highways safer than ever before.

The growing popularity of ridesharing offers hope that DUI related crimes, injuries, and death will continue to decrease, and the recent launch of UBERESPANOLLA may help to change the face of the typical California DUI criminal profile.




Data Sources

State of California Department of Motor Vehicles

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Fox School of Business at Temple University

Uber Newsroom

Lyft Newsroom

The Wall Street Journal



Pew Research Center 

5i Solutions






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