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DUI numbers appear to be stabilizing

After years of precipitous declines in OWI charges in the state of Michigan, experts say the rates may be on the upswing again. In 2012, the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by a meager 1 percent, showing that the rates may finally be reaching equilibrium.

Experts attribute the falling drunk driving rates to drastic cuts in police manpower throughout the state, but the fact remains the number of OWI arrests varies wildly among jurisdictions, even those with comparable resources. It is not yet fully clear whether the lower drunk driving rates can be attributed to police cuts, driver behavior or a combination of both factors.

Still, the slowing decline has some officers and citizens concerned, as some say drunk driving arrest increases are on the horizon. In fact, many experts postulate the rate will simply plateau, rather than rising again. Analysis shows the number of police officers on the roads has stabilized; that is, department cuts throughout the state have slowed. Many of these departments have reached their lowest-possible operating capacity, which means that no more officers can be cut off the payrolls.

Data analysis shows that drunk driving arrests between 2010 and 2011 dropped 10 percent, while the decrease was just 0.9 percent from 2011 to 2012. Still, those rates are significantly smaller than those in 2006; today's numbers show a 30 percent decrease. Even more troubling is the fact that 2004 was the last year the state saw a measurable growth in the number of police officers joining the force. About one in seven officers have since been cut from departments throughout the state.

If you are one of the fewer drivers facing drunk driving charges, realize that an arrest does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. Your qualified criminal defense attorney can help you learn more about the details of your case, determining whether officers acted legally throughout the process. In addition, a criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights during the entire legal process, from arraignment to sentencing and beyond.

Source: www.mlive.com, "New MLive analysis: DUI arrests could be on the rise after long slide; see what's happening where you live" John Barnes, Jun. 16, 2013