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DUI arrests going up

Staff Writer | May 17, 2021 1:09 AM

More people in Kootenai County are being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

This year through April, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has recorded 76 DUI arrests. For the same time period last year, there were 59 DUI arrests, an increase of about 25%.

According to KCSO's Friday booking summary, there were five DUI arrests, including one that was a second offense.

KCSO Lt. Ryan Higgins said they are being more proactive when it comes to preventing drunken driving.

Still, he said the increase was concerning.

"It's alarming this many people are still driving around intoxicated with all the education and negativity behind it," he said.

Higgins said it could be that because more people are not working due to coronavirus restrictions, have more time on their hands, and they are drinking more.

American Addiction Centers, a leading provider of addiction recovery resources, conducted a survey of 3,000 people (aged 21 and older), and found that nearly 1 in 3 (29%) Idahoans say they deem alcohol an essential purchase during the pandemic. The national average was 37%.

"When it came to liquor, Idahoans were fortunate that supply could keep up with the demand when lockdowns were imposed, which is surprising since a significant number of those surveyed would have opted to buy a bottle or two before toilet paper," the release said. "When given a hypothetical situation and asked to purchase either tissue or alcohol, 25% said they would choose the latter."

DUIs are costly. Between court expenses and fines, attorney fees and higher insurance, the average cost of a first-time DUI is from about $5,000 to $15,000. And it only goes up from there.

Higgins urged those drinking to call driving services, instead of trying to drive themselves home.

"Why even take a chance?" he asked.

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