Pennsylvania reports 17% drop in DUI arrests amid pandemic year

·2 min read

Jun. 10—Pennsylvania State Police reported a 17% drop in DUI arrests in 2020, a year that saw weeks of stay-at-home orders and months of business shutdowns.

According to a report released Thursday, state troopers made 18,412 arrests for driving under the influence in 2020. That's down from 22,139 in 2019.

Those numbers include only arrests made by state police. It does not account for DUI arrests made by municipal officers.

Troopers also performed 1,192 drug evaluations. Such evaluations are done by specially trained troopers called drug recognition experts (DRE). Those officers receive training meant to help identify physiological signs of drug impairment.

State police Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick pointed out that troopers kept up with their traditional duties while tasked with extra work enforcing pandemic-related restrictions and measures.

"They continued to work with our law enforcement partners to keep our roadways safe through a combination of DUI education and enforcement," Evanchick said.

Those education efforts included finding new ways to get their message across, as the places where they normally speak — schools, community events and businesses — were shuttered because of the virus.

Evanchick said troopers used virtual classrooms, giving more than 1,300 traffic safety presentation over the course of the year.

Southwestern Pennsylvania DUI arrests, crashes and DRE evaluations:

— Troop A (Cambria, Indiana, Somerset, Westmoreland): 1,118 DUI arrests / 316 DUI crashes / 0 DRE evaluations

— Troop B (Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington): 1,765 DUI arrests / 404 DUI crashes / 4 DRE evaluations

— Troop D (Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer): 1,795 DUI arrests / 315 DUI crashes / 412 DRE evaluations

In Pittsburgh, city police saw an even steeper drop in DUI investigations last year, according to Public Safety data.

Pittsburgh police tallied 328 DUI investigations in 2020, down from 480 in 2019 — a decrease of more than 31%. As of April 30, there have been 147 DUI offenses in Pittsburgh in 2021

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter .