In May 2016, rideshare companies Lyft and Uber abruptly stopped operating in Austin, Texas over a city regulation requiring drivers be fingerprinted to work. Since the two companies left, 10 licensed services have filled the void.
Uber and Lyft oppose the fingerprint rule for criminal background checks, arguing they do not improve safety and unfairly penalize minorities while reducing the supply of drivers.
Now more than six months after the departure of the rideshare giants, Austin has seemingly experienced a surge in DWIs — the very thing Uber and Lyft claimed they helped prevent by giving Austin residents an affordable means to get home.
According to data from the Austin Police Department, there has been a rise in the number of driving under the influence arrests in the city.
Before Uber arrived in 2014, Austin police showed an average of 525 DWI arrests per month. After Uber arrived, DWI arrests declined by 5%. This trend continued for the next year when DWI arrests dropped another 12% to an average 438 DWI arrests per month.
The average number of DWI arrests in May 2016, the month the companies left Austin, fell to just 358. Within months of Uber and Lyft leaving, DWI arrests increased 7.5% from the previous year and hit 476 in July.
Uber has repeatedly express an interest in returning to Austin if the regulation is removed.