City DUI arrests take unexplained drop

By CLARK MOORMAN/Montana State News

From 2008 to 2012, DUI arrests in Bozeman decreased by 46 percent.

In 2012, the Bozeman Police Department’s most recent available annual report, Chief of Police Ron Price said, “the department has … undertaken strict enforcement of all alcohol-based violations.”

However, the report’s DUI arrest numbers appears to contradict that.

In 2008, when the city’s population was 39,004, there were 514 DUI arrests. In 2012, the population was just 309 people fewer than in 2008, yet there were only 278 DUI arrests.

What could be the cause of this significant drop?

MSU criminology professor Sara Rasch took a look at the numbers and offered a theory.

“It’s possible that there are just as many DUI arrests being made, but that more arrests are being made outside of city limits than before,” she said.

In 2008, there were 89,800 residents in Gallatin County. In 2012, there were 92,600. That means that while Bozeman’s population decreased a negligible amount in the four year span (309 people), Gallatin County’s actually increased by 2,800 thousand residents.

This would explain if there were an increase in Gallatin County DUI arrests (actual numbers were not available), but since Bozeman’s population stayed relatively the same, this would still not account for the dramatic drop in DUI arrests within Bozeman city limits.

Rasch also noted that increased late night Streamline bus ridership might mean there are actually fewer drunk drivers on the Bozeman’s roads.

Streamline’s official website shows that late night ridership increased from 7,800 in 2009 to 13,500 in 2011, the most recent numbers available.

Rasch also noted that “while this would not account for the entire 46 percent decrease in arrests, it very likely contributed.”

– Edited by Jon-Paul Galeas

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