MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A familiar warning from police about going to holiday parties: don’t drink and drive. And now looking at the latest numbers, it looks like that message is getting through.
A deep dive into police DUI arrest statistics found a dramatic drop in Memphis.
According to the city of Memphis data center, DUI arrests in Memphis have dropped by almost half in the past decade. One victim’s family says while that sounds good, it doesn’t tell the whole picture.
“He just ran over my son, broke his neck, killed him there right on the spot,” said Thaddeus Matthews.
Matthews is talking about Melvin Willies. Willies was driving drunk and killed Thaddeus Matthews’ son Kenya Matthews almost three years ago.
“He had no business on the streets,” said Matthews.
According to crash statistics reported to the State of Tennessee, drunk driving accidents in Memphis and Shelby County are on the decline.
In 2016, the year Willies was arrested, there were 650 drunk driving accidents. In 2017, it dropped to 546. In 2018, there were 458. And with just 2 weeks left of 2019, there have been 389.
Memphis Police say educating the public, along with use of rideshare apps, have contributed to the decline, by keeping those who drink off the road.
“Your rideshare company pulls up, you get out, enjoy yourself, call them up, use the application to get them back to the scene to take you home. And it’s just a happy day in Memphis,” said Memphis Police Col. Keith Watson.
Matthews says while it may keep some people off the road, there are still plenty of people who get behind the wheel, like the repeat offender who ran over his son.
“A lot of drunks don’t know they’re drunk, so they don’t use an Uber or the Lyft. ‘I can make it home. I can handle the short distance,’ like the guy who killed my son.” said Matthews.
The message from police this holiday season, if you get behind the wheel after drinking, “understand that those decisions may last a lifetime, for not only you as a driver, but the family of those victims that may cross your path,” said Watson.