DUIs increase, police department reacts

Increased DUI’s have hit the area in the past year, and college-aged students are not immune to the growing statistics.

In 2013, there were 175 DUI arrests in Murray. This is a more than 20 percent increase compared to the five years before packaged liquor sales were made legal in the city, which saw numbers between 133 and 141.

Murray residents voted on July 17, 2012, to allow packaged alcohol sales, after debate over the matter.

Kendra Clere, Alcohol Beverage Control administrator, said she thinks the increased number of DUI’s is due to more patrol in the area, not because of Murray now being a wet county.

“The increased numbers are something we expected to see,” Clere said. “I do not think there are more incidents of DUI’s taking place; we are just catching more.”

There have been five new officers added in the last year. Officers normally complete their shifts around midnight, which Clere said is when the most DUI offenses take place.

Clere said she thinks college students can be vulnerable to DUI’s.

“College students can be more prone (to DUI’s) because they do not always think about the consequences,” she said.

Robert Bringhurst, captain of operations for Public Safety and Emergency Management, said the University tries to educate students on the dangers of alcohol usage.

“Public Safety has always taken a proactive approach by offering safety and awareness presentations which encourage students to make responsible decisions about alcohol,” he said.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, each year an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related incidents, which includes motor vehicle accidents.

Each year, approximately 599,000 students are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol and 3,360,000 students drive under the influence of alcohol.

Clere said when students have been drinking, it is important to make sure you have a designated driver, or to take a cab ride home.

“It is easier to pay $5 for a cab ride than $700 for a DUI where you are putting your life and others at risk,” she said.

The average cost for a first offense DUI in Kentucky is $1,000 to $5,000 for attorney fees, up to $500 for court costs, a fine between $200 to $500, a service fee of $350, no less than 48 hours or more than 30 days in jail and the loss of license for 30 to 120 days.

Murray has also seen an increase in alcohol intoxication arrests, in the past year. There were 64 AI arrests made in 2012 and 112 arrests made in 2013, which is an almost 60 percent increase in just one year.

Clere said this is something that was also expected due to the increased patrolling in the area.

The city of Murray itself has received almost $1 million in revenue since the sale of packaged liquor in the area.

According to the Alcohol Beverage Control’s quarterly report, $946,000 was the total generated for city in alcohol sales in 2013.

Clere said the best thing students can do to avoid being involved in a DUI is not to drink and drive.

Said Clere: “(Students) need to use their heads and make the right decision.”

 

Story by Rebecca Walter, staff writer