With Uber rising to 8 million active customers, it’s not a leap to suggest DUI could be reduced. It’s almost common knowledge an average DUI can run around $10,000 for a first offense, which includes a victim impact panel, online DUI school, attorney & court fees as well as a suspended license. Compared to a $15 fare for a ride home it’s a no-brainer.

Temple University even put out a paper last year that showed with access to cheap ride sharing services, drinkers were more likely to choose that service than drive home while drunk, avoiding a DUI. We investigated the data ourselves in Seattle & San Francisco to observe how drunk driving crime stats were affected when Uber entered the market.

We estimate the entrance of Uber into Seattle caused DUI arrests to decrease by 10%. The results are statistically significant based upon the data. The graph below describes the “Uber effect” relative to average DUI/DWIs. We also measured the impact of marijuana legalization, which seems to have increased drunk driving.

We took drunk driving data from arrest data made public by police departments in San Francisco and Seattle. This includes non-alcohol drug arrests for driving under the influence as well.

As a first step, we estimated a simple regression discontinuity that tested whether the incidence of DUI changed in Seattle before and after Uber entered, controlling for a time trend, day of the week effects, and the legalization of marijuana (which seems to have caused a spike in DUI)

By this approach, Uber is responsible for approximately -.7 DUIs per day, or more than a 10% reduction overall. However, this approach is inherently weakened by the fact that many things could have caused DUI to go down around the time when Uber entered. In order to test the robustness of this estimate, we use San Francisco as a control city in a “differences-in-differences” framework. The result is consistent:

This basic econometric study provides proof that Uber’s service of safe, easily available rides have a meaningful impact on drunk driving arrests and online DUI class attendance in the cities they operate in.