DWIs result in Michigan arrests doubling the rest of the state


UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. – The rate of arrests per 10,000 people in Michigan is double that of the rest of the state according to 2022 data from the state of Michigan.

Captain James Finkbeiner of the Marquette City Police identifies drinking and driving as a serious problem.

“I have personally arrested people where I have seen someone have their fourth or fifth offense,” Finkbeiner said.

With his advanced training in field sobriety testing, Finkbeiner has helped train officers at the Marquette City Police on testing potential drunk drivers.

“Everybody that we stop that we may suspect isn’t always that intoxicated. Sometimes it is a little bit more difficult to tell,” Finkbeiner said.

Finkbeiner stated that many people that he has placed under arrest lose track of how intoxicated they really are. The police captain further explained that every person’s body metabolizes alcohol at a different rate.

“When you start putting alcohol into your body, there is only one way to get yourself sober after drinking, and that’s time,” Finkbeiner said.

Statistically, in Marquette County alone, 355 people were arrested for drunk driving in 2022. That is the only county in the U.P. posting higher than the state average of 322.

However, data from the 2022 Michigan Drunk Driving Audit further parses those numbers in terms of population density, which then says the drunk driving arrest rate in Michigan is 26.4 people per 10,000.

In the U.P. specifically, that rate is nearly double at 51.2 people arrested per 10,000. Baraga County had the highest rate in the U.P. with 99.78 arrests per 10,000.

Trooper Dan Parrow with the Michigan State Police Calumet Post opined that this could be because Baraga is a much smaller county than others in his coverage area.

“Baraga County has a lesser complaint load than, say, Houghton or Marquette Counties, which would allow more officers to get out and do traffic enforcement,” Parrow said.

Parrow works the night shift at the post, meaning that typically he will be on the roads when many potential drunk drivers are trying to drive home.

“Drunk driving is a huge issue that law enforcement has to continually deal with,” Parrow said.

In terms of causal factors as to the high numbers, Finkbeiner said, especially during a U.P. winter, there aren’t many activities that don’t involve drinking, and the limited public transportation options can push people to make risky decisions when intoxicated. He said a third reason, is social influence.

“If your friend says, ‘Hey I’ve had too much to drink, why don’t you drive?’ That is another piece. How do you say no to your friend?” Finkbeiner said.

The Great Lakes Recovery Centers (GLRC) stated that normalizing drinking habits starts well before you turn 21. The organization said for many, it starts as young as 6th grade.

Surveys the organization conducted from 2017 to 2019, showed that up to 6% of 6th-grade students in the U.P. voluntarily reported drinking. That number then skyrockets to almost 50% in most U.P. counties by the time the student reaches 12th grade.

And it is worth considering that these are only the students who willingly self-reported.

“Our kids are exposed to a lot of social media. It is the same thing with tobacco use or anything that is out there. They want to fit into what they believe is the norm,” said Tracy Johnson, GLRC director of prevention services.

The national average for 12th-grade students using alcohol is recorded at 30%. Ten U.P. counties are recorded as above the national average, with Iron and Gogebic Counties reporting over 50% alcohol usage.

“I think it is important as adults that we model the behavior that we want our kids to become,” Finkbeiner said. “The kids are going to notice that and hopefully that will stick with them as they grow up.”

Finkbeiner ultimately said that if you are going out and drinking around your children, you should demonstrate responsible consumption by having another adult sober to drive home.

— with files from uppermichiganssource.com


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