PORTLAND, Maine — Figures show a 25 percent drop in drunken driving arrests in Maine during the past decade, but it’s not clear what the numbers mean.
A Portland Press Herald analysis of data from the Maine Administrative Office of the Courts shows that the number of drunken-driving charges brought by Maine police dropped from 8,029 in 2001 to 6,026 in 2011.
Some police and experts say fewer people are taking the chance of driving under the influence because of the harsh penalties that can result. Others say the decline reflects cutbacks in law enforcement and increasing demands on officers, who have less time to patrol for drunken drivers and make arrests.
Portland police Sgt. Scot Mattox says that while police staffing’s been reduced, there’s “a cultural shift” away from drinking and driving.