The Effect of Columbus’ New Casino Culture on DUI Rates

Since Ohio voters passed the 2009 amendment allowing casinos there have been a few changes to the major urban landscapes in the state – and their cultural counterparts. The first Ohio casino was the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland, followed by Hollywood Casino of Toledo. The Horseshoe Casino of Cincinnati is scheduled to open in 2013. There are those that favor casino development for their economic benefits as well as those who oppose the idea because of alleged associated increased crime rates. One of the hot-button topics is whether casinos will increase the crime rate for Ohio DUI and other alcohol- and drug-related offenses in the immediate and surrounding areas.

This year, Columbus got in the game with its first racino at Scioto Downs in June and its first Vegas-style establishment Hollywood Casino, which opened just this past October. Both casinos offer various opportunities for gambling, entertainment, and alcoholic beverage consumption. So what does this mean for the DUI rate in Franklin County and the surrounding areas? More specifically, what does it mean for you, a potential casino patron?

In 2010, the Journal of Health Economics released a study entitled “The Impact of Casinos on Fatal Alcohol-Related Traffic Accidents in the United States.” The study indicates that in urban areas, casinos actually reduce the rate of DUIs, while the rate for suburban and rural areas increases. The authors surmise that for urban areas the decrease in driving distance, availability of public transportation, and substitution of gambling for bar-hopping accounts for the decreased rate, while the rate jump in more sparsely-populated areas  is caused by the increase in distance driven by alcohol-impaired drivers.

Even though the study seems to indicate the relative safety of the Columbus urban areas with regards to DUI, the responsibility is ultimately up to you. If you live in the urban area and decide to visit the casino, make sure you are prepared to use public transportation or are accompanied by a designated driver. If you are visiting the casino from one of the outlying areas of Columbus, always make sure you are with another person who either cannot or will not drink. Remember, the atmosphere and drink specials at a casino bar are designed to get you to drink and spend more money. Making these arrangements ahead of time will ensure your protection from a Columbus DUI arrest at Hollywood Casino or Scioto Downs racino should you give in to temptation.

An Ohio DUI (aka OVI) arrest is no joke. Even with a first-time offense, if your alcohol level is above .08 (.04 for commercial drivers), you could face a fine, jail time, license suspension, and cultural repercussions of having a misdemeanor on your criminal record. Additionally, the tight security at Hollywood Casino Columbus and Scioto Downs racino will supply more concrete evidence against you, further impeding your defense. Don’t face the stress of a DUI charge. If you plan to visit a Columbus casino – be smart. Take a designated driver and be prepared. If you’ve already been arrested for a DUI, whether it involved a casino or not, it is a great idea to hire an experienced Columbus DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

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