HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Roadways in Morgan County were hit hard this year by car wrecks and aggressive driving due to all of the construction and detours. In addition, DUIs across the county have hit record highs.
The 2020 DUI numbers show a 54 percent increase from this time last year.
According to Mike Swafford from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, that 54 percent increase in DUIs is the biggest change the county has seen in more than five years. He says the final number is bound to be an anomaly.
Law enforcement believes this increase in DUIs is related to stress.
The pandemic has put a burden on many families and as result, Swafford says more people are getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
“We are not experts at this type of stuff but based on what 2020 has brought, our theory is that this is related to stress. People are finding different ways to cope," Swafford said.
In Alabama, “under the influence” does not only refer to alcohol. The DUI cases include people who are taking illegal narcotics or abusing prescription pills.
Swafford has a message for the community as we approach the holiday season, which generally is a time when DUIs are a major problem.
“The sad thing about it is we have been talking about this for years. People know not to drive while intoxicated, they know that they are placing themselves and others at risk," Swafford said. "But this year we are starting earlier going into the holiday season…we are talking about it now versus waiting until December and we are going to continue that. The message is simple: get a designated driver, be conscious of how you are feeling and what you are doing.”
If you do not have a family member or friend to call in a time when you simply need a ride, Swafford says police officers can give courtesy rides. Of course, that all depends on the circumstances but if it’s a genuine concern, you will be helped.