Drunk Driving by Maryland County

I was always into statistics. When I was little, baseball statistics were the outlet. I was doing Moneyball when Billy Beane was still learning what a double steal is. (This is hyperbole. I like to exaggerate the things I saw coming.)

Like a lot of us, I looked at risk differently when I became a parent. Now I’m more interested in what the authors of Freakonomics tell us about what matters when raising a child. (Here’s the transcript of a podcast I recently listened to which I found more than a little depressing. It really makes you question the efficacy of piano lessons.)maryland counties drunk driving

Freakonomics interests me because it uses statistics to assess the risk that questions largely held assumptions. I try to use statistics in parenting to make sure my kids are avoiding the risks that we can reasonably avoid. Car accidents are on a big blip on the radar screen. Car accidents are a major risk of serious injury and death for young children, a far greater risk that 95% of the things you worry about as a parent.

Drunk driving is an enormous risk factor for car accidents. It never occurred to me to look at where in Maryland drunk driving is the greatest. So I read with particular interest these statistics on the number of drunk driving cases in Maryland in 2010, sorted by county, and the number of DWI cases tried in court in 2010 and the resulting verdicts:

    Montgomery: 3,512 DWI cases filed. There were 5,324 cases tried in 2010 resulting in: 1,858 Guilty verdicts, 98 Not Guilty verdicts, 2,585 Probation Before Judgment [PBJ] verdicts, and 1,029 “other” verdicts (which include Dismissed Cases, Nolle Prosequi, Stet, Merged Cases, Jury Trial Prayers, and Miscellaneous Others)

  • Prince George’s: 2,733 DWI cases filed. There were 2,206 cases tried resulting in: 75 Guilty, 34 Not Guilty, 185 PBJ, and 1,912 other – 1,425 of which were closed as Nolle Prosequi.
  • Baltimore County: 2,459 DWI cases filed. There were 2,563 cases tried resulting in: 715 Guilty, 86 Not Guilty, 1,312 PBJ, and 450 other.
  • Anne Arundel: 2,009 DWI cases filed. There were 2,468 cases tried resulting in: 590 Guilty, 74 Not Guilty, 1,200 PBJ, and 604 other.
  • Howard: 1,440 DWI cases filed. There were 1,694 cases tried resulting in: 337 Guilty, 41 Not Guilty, 943 PBJ, and 373 other.
  • <Baltimore City: 982 DWI cases filed. There were 969 cases tried resulting in: Guilty, Not Guilty, PBJ, and other.
  • <Carroll: 935 DWI cases filed. There were 816 cases tried resulting in: 156 Guilty, 36 Not Guilty, 424 PBJ, and 200 other.
  • Harford: 909 DWI cases filed. There were 1,094 cases tried resulting in: 461 Guilty, 19 Not Guilty, 484 PBJ, and 130 other.
  • Frederick: 900 DWI cases filed. There were 1,027 cases tried resulting in: 273 Guilty, 16 Not Guilty, 448 PBJ, and 290 other.
  • Charles: 794 DWI cases filed. There were 1,135 cases tried resulting in: 376 Guilty, 13 Not Guilty, 513 PBJ, and 233 other.
  • Worcester: 662 DWI cases filed. There were 1,053 cases tried resulting in: 439 Guilty, 36 Not Guilty, 482 PBJ, and 96 other.
  • Washington: 642 DWI cases filed. There were 859 cases tried resulting in: 267 Guilty, 4 Not Guilty, 387 PBJ, and 201 other.
  • Calvert: 626 DWI cases filed. There were 968 cases tried resulting in: 285 Guilty, 16 Not Guilty, 510 PBJ, and 157 other.
  • >Cecil: 585 DWI cases filed. There were 285 cases tried resulting in: 41 Guilty, 7 Not Guilty, 65 PBJ, and 172 other.
  • St Mary’s: 510 DWI cases filed. There were 736 cases tried resulting in: 376 Guilty, 13 Not Guilty, 307 PBJ, and 109 other.
  • Wicomico: 489 DWI cases filed. There were 818 cases tried resulting in: 275 Guilty, 18 Not Guilty, 317 PBJ, and 208 other.
  • Allegany: 341 DWI cases filed. There were 557 cases tried resulting in: 219 Guilty, 2 Not Guilty, 232 PBJ, and 206 other.
  • Queen Anne’s: 321 DWI cases filed. There were 583 cases tried resulting in: 227 Guilty, 8 Not Guilty, 222 PBJ, and 126 other.
  • Talbot: 276 DWI cases filed. There were 372 cases tried resulting in: 99 Guilty, 56 Not Guilty, 155 PBJ, and 62 other.
  • Caroline: 258 DWI cases filed. There were 308 cases tried resulting in: 125 Guilty, 10 Not Guilty, 74 PBJ, and 99 other.
  • Dorchester: 182 DWI cases filed. There were 225 cases tried resulting in: 97 Guilty, 13 Not Guilty, 59 PBJ, and 56 other.
  • Garrett: 181 DWI cases filed. There were 297 cases tried resulting in: 77 Guilty, 3 Not Guilty, 129 PBJ, and 88 other.
  • Somerset: 167 DWI cases filed. There were 195 cases tried resulting in: 68 Guilty, 5 Not Guilty, 83 PBJ, and 39 other.
  • Kent: 119 DWI cases filed. There were 179 cases tried resulting in: 60 Guilty, 6 Not Guilty, 72 PBJ, and 41 other.

Statistically, what jumps off the page is the number of not guilty verdict drunk driving cases in Ocean City. There are more not guilty verdicts in drunk driving cases in Ocean City than in Prince George’s County. I’m assuming that it is because they have so many seasonal police officers it is tough to make cases stick. You have a 31% chance of getting a not guilty verdict in a drunk driving case in Ocean City and a 2% chance in neighboring Somerset County. That’s crazy, right? (Why have we never read an investigative news piece about this? Someone wake up the Baltimore Sun.)

These are misleading statistics if you are trying to avoid drunk drivers in Maryland. This data shows not just drunk drivers but enforcement. Drunk drivers hit our roads somewhere between 88 to 500 times on average before getting in trouble, according to various experts and studies.

There is some good news here, too. Drunk driving charges are declining in Maryland. A total of 22,032 DWIs were filed in 2010, down from 23,904 in 2009, and 25,466 in 2008. Assuming that enforcement efforts have remained the same or increased, this is encouraging.

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