Travis County Sherriff: Drunk driving in Austin decreases thanks to ridesharing

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is asking the City of Austin to reconsider the “onerous regulations” the city council is hoping to adopt, adding ridesharing companies—such as Uber and Lyft—have helped to decrease the drunk driving epidemic in Austin.

According to Sheriff Hamilton, DWI arrests in Austin increased from 2011 to 2013. The statistics were recorded by the Austin Police Department. In 2013, transportation network companies (TNC) Uber and Lyft began their operations in Austin, decreasing DWI’s over the next two years.

“The number of DWI arrest fell 16-percent in 2014,” Hamilton wrote. “DWI-related crashes fell even more citywide, decreasing by 23-percent last year.”

Sheriff Hamilton added that while the “causal relationship” between ridesharing and drunk driving requires more study, TNC companies have made safe rides home readily available to residents, thereby making Austin safer. 

“Drunk driving in Austin is an epidemic. It is my strong opinion that we ensure that TNC companies remain operational in Austin, as they provide a critical service that is keeping Austin much safer that we were without them,” he said.

Some of the regulations these ridesharing companies face are fees paid to the City of Austin and the requirement of fingerprint screening. Some TNC companies have suggested that if the regulations are approved, they will be forced to leave the city.

The Austin City Council will vote on the regulations on Dec. 17. For more information on the regulations, click here.

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