Is a dry community is safer than a wet community? Texas dry counties and crime rates are bringing up questions about safety, alcohol sales and maybe even how DUI law changes can make streets safer in both types of counties.
Much like Arkansas, Louisiana and 30 other states, there are Texas dry counties.
A dry county is a jurisdiction that does not allow the purchase of alcohol; wet counties allow the sale of alcohol according to state law. In wet counties, it is believed that there’s a correlation between alcohol sales and crime, suggesting that the availability of alcohol may cause higher crime rates in some counties. Those crimes can include both alcohol-related incidents (DUI, public intoxication) and crimes that could be attributed to alcohol (sexual assault, burglary).
In Lubbock County no alcohol sales are allowed. Residents drive to the next county over to purchase their beer, wine or liquor. That’s a long drive, in many cases, and one that could be fueled by alcohol on the way home. For that reason alone dry counties could actually increase the DUI numbers in neighboring counties. People drive long distances to drink, and then have to find a safe ride home or drive themselves. In rural communities, taxi services and Uber aren’t always available. Plus, that county actually has almost as many reported crimes as two neighboring counties’ (Midland and Ector) combined crime totals. Both of those counties are wet; they sell alcohol, giving everyone a reason to wonder whether dry counties are an outdated attempt to restrict alcohol sales when more emphasis could be placed on strengthening DUI laws, and of course, further expanding the ignition interlock program.
Since Texas dry counties aren’t necessarily preventing more crimes and the residents are even ready for less of a commute to the bar, Texas has a chance to decrease DUIs and other alcohol-related crimes while keeping the streets safe for everyone by allowing alcohol sales and increasing ignition interlock requirements.