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County DUIs more than double during pandemic

The roads in Morgan County have become more dangerous since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, which reports DUI numbers in Morgan County have more than doubled since 2019.  

MCSO Public Information Officer Mike Swafford said while the MCSO does not know exactly what has caused the stark increase in DUIs, uncertainty and stress being elevated is the suspected culprit.  

That’s our uneducated theory because that’s not what we do for a living, but it seems to be common sense,” he said. “When people deal with more stress – and this year has brought everything you can think ofwhether someone is worried about bank accounts or a job or being cooped up with people all the time – stress relief is typically what people look to alcohol for.”  

Swafford said the MCSO is also seeing increases in domestic disturbances and abuse incidences.  

“It can all be traced back to that period when we were stuck together,” he said. “There also seems to be a national apathy because 2020 has beat us down. Many people say, ‘Oh well,’ and that could also be leading to some of these bad decisions. That’s the theory.”  

Swafford added the holiday season is always a time of increased DUIs, but this year the increase has started earlier. He said the MCSO hopes highlighting this issue will encourage citizens to make wise choices – namely, not to get behind the wheel after drinking. 

“The more it is said, the more it’s talked about – maybe that will help someone not make that decision or be more willing to be a designated driver or to go pick up that person when they call for help,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing that we can do to prevent it.  

“Because we know it is happening more, we’re definitely looking for it,” Swafford added. “We have additional deputies out and more patrols.”