This is the timeline

of how COVID has affected the number of DWI arrests in Austin, Texas. The following data was compiled from the Travis County Misdemeanor Search.

Here is a summary of the data.

DWI Arrests in Travis County

Mar 2-8Mar 9-15Mar 16-22Mar 23-29Mar 30-Apr 5Apr 6-12Apr 13-19
1001035747484142

Updated April 19, 2020

March 6, 2020

The Austin Mayor declared on March 6, 2020 that Austin was facing a local disaster and that people need to be more careful to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

March 20, 2020

The Austin Mayor prohibited Social Gatherings of more than 10 people, which essentially closed down bars and restaurants, except for take out orders.

March 25, 2020

The Austin Mayor issued the Stay at Home Order going into effect starting March 25, 2020 until at least May 8, 2020. The Austin Mayor prohibited residents of Austin from leaving their house for non-essential reasons. Specifically, the Order prohibits social gatherings. Period. Regardless of the number of people. This made it a criminal offense to violate this order, a Class B misdemeanor of up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1000.

April 1, 2020

Austin Chief of Police announces that officers will not issue tickets or arrest anyone for violating the Stay at Home Order. But instead, their focus is on education.

Three Interesting Trends

Trend #1: Austin Residents Ignore Recommendations But Follow Orders

Mar 2-8Mar 9-15Mar 16-22
10010357

The following week immediately after the declaration of disaster (March 6) by the Austin Mayor, there was the same number of DWI Arrests. But after the Stay at Home Order (March 25) by the Austin Mayor, the number of DWI Arrests was cut in half. Saint Patrick’s Day was on March 17, which was a Tuesday, many people planned to go out that weekend. The numbers make sense because Austin is a more liberal city that likes to party and drink. And the government can recommend its citizens to follow a certain course of action but Austinites obviously want to talk about how crazy COVID is becoming over a few drinks at the bar.

However, the one asterisk to this analysis is Uber and Lyft rides are probably a lot less after the announcement of the declaration of disaster. So less people could be going to the bars overall, but more than are driving to the bars. This could explain why there is the same number of DWI Arrests before the declaration of the disaster than the week after.

Trend #2: After Bars Closed Down, DWI Arrests Down by Two-Thirds on Weekend

Mar 5-8Mar 9-11Mar 12-15Mar 16-18Mar 19-22
7831723126

Before bars and restaurants were mandated to be closed down on March 20, most DWI Arrests were on Thursday to Sunday. However, the first weekend following the shut down of bars and restaurants, DWI arrests reduced more than 60%. This makes sense because Austin is mostly a social drinking culture.

Trend #3: After the Stay at Home Order, DWI Arrests Stayed the Same

Mar 16-22Mar 23-29Mar 30-Apr 5Apr 6-12Apr 13-19
5747484142

There were two significant events that happened almost back to back. On March 25, the Stay at Home Order went into effect, making it illegal to violate the Order. However, on April 1, the Austin Chief of Police announced that officers will not arrest anyone for violating the Stay at Home Order. But instead, their focus is on education. What is a rule without consequences? A recipe for people not complying with the rule in the first place. The numbers don’t lie.

The first week after the Stay at Home Order went into effect, the number of DWI Arrests in Austin stayed the exact same. This proves that people initially didn’t care about the Stay at Home Order because there is no consequence.

The second week after the Stay at Home Order went into effect, there was a slight decrease of about 15% of DWI arrests. This can be explained by the two subgroups of people who break the rule to Stay at Home and still go to visit their friends to hang out at their friend’s homes. The first group of people is scared about the virus but willing to take a risk because they miss their friends. They go see their friends once to hang out the first week after the Stay at Home Order went into effect. But then they go back into isolation at home. The second group of people are not scared about the virus and don’t care about risks. So this group of people is still going to hang out with their friends who also don’t care about the virus. This explains why the third week has the exact same number of DWI arrests as the second week.