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Researchers cast doubt on Uber's drunk driving claims

Ride-sharing services provide many Georgia residents with a convenient way to get home after a night on the town, and companies like Uber and Lyft say that they improve safety and lower police workloads by keeping drunk drivers off the road. These claims have been backed up by several surveys of ride-sharing customers, but researchers from Oxford University in England and the University of Southern California say that the statistics do not bear these claims out. The research was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology on July 22.

The researchers analyzed data from the 100 most populated American metropolitan areas compiled both before and after ride-sharing services became available, and they found no noticeable difference in drunk driving fatality rates. The results of the study contradict the findings of Temple University researchers who linked the introduction of Uber and other ride-sharing companies in California with a reduction in drunk driving deaths in 2015.

Unlike their counterparts at Temple, the USC and Oxford researchers studied data from around the country and took changes in local traffic laws into consideration. The researchers also filtered their data to account for marijuana legalization and increases in alcohol taxes. While the researchers came to no firm conclusions, they did speculate that intoxicated individuals may choose not to use services like those offered by Uber due to poor judgement or cost considerations.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may recommend that their clients avoid the possibility of drunk driving penalties by using taxis or ride-sharing services if they plan on drinking, but they could also argue vigorously on their behalf if they are charged with driving under the influence after choosing to get behind the wheel instead. The evidence in drunk driving cases often appears overwhelming, but defense attorneys may question the behavior of police officers and challenge the results of sobriety tests in order to secure more lenient treatment for their clients.

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