SIOUX CITY -- The number of drunk-driving cases in Sioux City is up 17 percent this year compared to last. A new report suggests Sioux City has the country's 12th highest rate of OWI arrests.
Sioux City ranked 12th in the 20 cities with the most DUIs (a common term for what is called operating while intoxicated in Iowa, according to a new report from Insurify Insights, an auto-insurance quote website. In Sioux City, 44.03 out of every 1,000 drivers has a DUI on their record.
According to Sioux City Police data, there have been 498 OWI cases to date this year, compared to 423 for all of 2019, an increase of roughly 17 percent. In 2018, there were approximately 473 OWI cases.
Police Sgt. Jeremy McClure attributed the increased OWI arrests of this year to enforcement.
"We still have officers dedicated to detecting impaired drivers," McClure said.
The increase in OWI cases is surprising in the light of the disclosure earlier this year that routine traffic enforcement was down due to COVID-19.
In mid-May, the Sioux City Police acknowledged that it was conducting fewer routine traffic stops in an effort to prevent officers from contracting COVID-19. By that point, several officers -- including Chief Rex Mueller -- had already contracted the virus.
Traffic stops were slashed by more than half in the first half of May compared to the same period two months earlier. During the first two weeks in May, the department had pulled over 401 drivers, compared to 986 traffic stops in the first two weeks of March.
McClure said that routine traffic enforcement has since returned to closer to normal levels.
"Just trying to mitigate the risks when we do it," McClure said.