End of 2021 holiday crash reports revealed a slight uptick in overall crashes and alcohol-related offenses over New Year’s holiday weekend.
The Pennsylvania State Police recently released holiday crash reports from the weekends of Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2.
Christmas weekend in 2021 yielded zero DUI charges from PSP Troop G in Huntingdon County and two total crashes, an exact repeat of charges during that weekend in 2020.
Huntingdon Borough police interacted with one crash and one public drunkenness case over Christmas weekend in 2021, and no incidences over Christmas in 2020.
Huntingdon Borough Police Chief Charles Streightiff noted that, for the Christmas holiday, people are generally settled in centralized locations with family instead of traveling place to place as they might for other holidays.
State police Trooper Christopher Fox, Troop G Hollidaysburg, shared that the troop responded to zero DUI incidents the weekend of Dec. 31, 2020, through Jan. 2, 2021, though there were three total crashes.
New Year’s Eve 2021, however, he noted was an outlier.
That weekend the troop responded to 3 crashes overall, two of which were DUI related crashes.
Though there were more of these cases in 2021 than in 2020, Fox noted that the data set is really too small to make any overarching assumptions.
“In order to really capture it, we would have to have a bigger sample size–like 10 years or bigger,” he said. “These types of things are hard to predict.”
The increase in DUI charges “could be lightning striking, or there could be a substance abuse issue going on in the world,” Fox added.
Huntingdon Borough Police also noticed a slight uptick in alcohol related crimes in the weekend of New Year’s ringing in 2022 over the start of 2021.
Over New Year’s weekend in late 2020, the department responded to only eight calls, one of which was a non-alcohol related crash.
New Year’s weekend in late 2021, however, yielded 22 total calls, two DUI charges and one public drunkenness charge to which the Huntingdon Borough Police responded.
Streightiff noted the department had an officer on special assignment on New Year’s Eve to patrol for DUI enforcement.
“We put together specialized assignments to cover certain holidays or certain times during the year that would be beneficial to have special patrol.”
Unlike the Christmas holiday, “for New Year’s, people are out traveling to different locations, like bars or restaurants,” Streightiff said. “It’s the same with the night before Thanksgiving.”
Like Trooper Fox, Streightiff couldn’t determine a cause for the slight uptick in DUI cases this New Year’s Eve.
“On any given day, those numbers could be higher, or lower or nonexistent,” Streightiff said. “It’s a matter of an officer coming in contact (with violators) or being made aware of violations.
“We know they occur on a daily basis, but violators go uncontacted,” he added. “We can’t have overtime assignments out every night,” he said, “so we target the dates that are most heavily participated in.”
Olivia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.