SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. --A major concern for those who voted against privatizing liquor sales was that the change would increase alcohol related arrests.
A new report said arrests have not increased. The report showed that DUIs arrests by the Washington State Patrol have decreased along with minor in possession and other categories.
A WSP spokesperson said the agency attributes the decrease to man-power.
Washington State’s 78 year monopoly on liquor sales came to an end on June 1, 2012. It happened after votes approved 1183. Private retailers began selling alcohol.
“The overall big picture of it is where you buy your liquor, whether you buy it at a government store or a private store, there is not a correlation whether it's going to result in a DUI or an arrest,” said Washington Policy Center Director Jason Mercier.
The study looked at Washington State Patrol data since 2008. DUI collisions and arrests have continued to trend downward in the years following.
“Between a big effort on education and enforcement we've seen these numbers improve, and privatization has not reversed that trend,” said Mercier.
A WSP spokesperson said collisions of all kinds are down and the number of arrests is more directly connected to the number of troopers on patrol. The spokesman said the state patrol is down 83 troopers statewide.
“So if you assume each trooper is going to make about a couple DUI arrests per week, some make more than that, when you are that short of troopers you start to see DUI's falling just because we don't have the troopers on the road to make the arrest,” said Washington State Patrol spokesperson Bob Calkins.
The police center’s director challenged that view and said even with fewer troopers the state patrol reported more DUI arrests in 2010 than in years past.
The new report shows compliance rate is down by two percent for liquor sales to minors after the privatization.