Local DWI stats bear out research

 by Steve S. Schmidly and J. Brooke Schmidly

We feel compelled to respond to the letter written by the District Attorney. It appears that the DA’s office has misquoted our position and what we have said, but also has inadvertently proven the very point we have been making.

Throughout our public presentations on this issue, we have said that the DWI rates in Asheboro and Randolph County were too high and were in fact higher than in surrounding cities and counties that allowed the controlled sale of alcoholic beverages. Further, we expressed our concern about the information published by the Montgomery Herald Newspaper prior to the alcohol election in Montgomery County related to the information that had been provided to that paper by the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Interestingly, in their letter, the DA did not discuss the population of our respective cities and counties. Since the next official census is scheduled for 2010, the US Census Bureau has made 2006 population estimates for Asheboro, Greensboro, Randolph County and Guilford County.

Using the very statistics provided by the District Attorney’s Office-- the Asheboro Police Department made 187 DWI arrests in 2007. Asheboro has an estimated population of approximately 24,130 (US Census Bureau) for a DWI/population rate of .00774. The Greensboro Police Department made 798 DWI arrests in 2007 and has an estimated population of 236,865 (US Census Bureau) for a DWI/population rate of .00337, less than half of Asheboro’s. High Point had 446 DWI arrests and an estimated population of 97,796 (US Census Bureau) for a DWI/population rate of .00456. These statistics prove what we have said: that banning the sale of alcohol in Asheboro has not led to lower DWI rates and, in fact, Asheboro’s DWI rates as compared to population are more than double Greensboro’s rate and substantially higher than High Point’s. Something is not right.

Population statistics also show that Randolph County has a higher DWI rate by population than Guilford County. Using the DA’s numbers, there were 840 DWI arrests in Randolph County which has an estimated population of 140,410 (US Census Bureau) for a DWI/population rate of .00599. Guilford County had 2,232 arrests and a population of 451,905 (US Census Bureau) for a rate of .00493.

We can argue over numbers all we want. The one point all of these numbers clearly makes is that our strategy of not selling alcohol in Asheboro is not effective at preventing DWI and alcohol related problems. And, as Bob Morrison’s letter to the editor made clear, those drinking and driving in this dry county are likely driving farther to do it, thus endangering many more people. Meanwhile, we lose restaurants, hotels, and tax dollars to the communities around us, often the very cities discussed above, which have lower rates of DWI per population than we do. Ironic, isn’t it.