The city of Oxford saw 63 arrests for driving under the influence last month, giving January 2021 a higher number of DUI arrests than any other January since 2016, according to the Oxford Police Department weekly crime logs.
January 2021 had at least 25 more arrests than January 2020, 2019 and 2016. While January 2017 and 2018 reported higher arrests, they do not surpass last month’s total DUI arrests.
Oxford Police Department public information officer Breck Jones said that the number of DUI arrests in January was an increase from arrests made in December, as well. Approximately three times the number of DUI arrests occurred in January 2021 than December 2020.
“It’s probably just that more people are coming into town,” Jones said. “You know, school started back, so the town’s a little busier, and there’s more people out and about.”
There were 468 DUI arrests in Oxford in 2020, a little over 100 less than the years prior. Breck said the drop can be attributed to stay-at-home orders and social distancing regulations brought on by the pandemic.
“They went down slightly, but probably not as much as you would think,” Jones said.
Despite the lower overall rate last year, several videos have circulated on social media this January showing vehicle and property damage caused by vehicles in Oxford.
One video posted to the Barstool Ole Miss Instagram account on Jan. 22 showed damage caused by a driver in the Ole Miss parking garage. Another video from Jan. 23 showed vehicle damage caused to parked cars in The Retreat residential complex.
OPD replied to both posts, stating that the drivers were subsequently arrested for DUI.
University spokesperson Rod Guajardo said that the University Police Department has not seen any increase in DUI cases on campus.
Around midnight on Jan. 28, a car hit an electrical pole on South 16th Street, resulting in a power outage that took until around 8 a.m. the next morning to fix, according to a tweet from Oxford Utilities.
Sophie Close, a senior civil engineering major, said she had returned to her home, which was near the crash, just five minutes before the pole was hit.
“It was weird,” Close said. “The power went out first, and then we heard a big pop, and I kind of figured it had blown because I’ve heard that before.”
Close said she and her neighbors gathered in the street, confused and searching for the cause of the blackout.
“It was so dark because there were no streetlights or anything in our whole area,” Close said. “A bunch of our neighbors were also outside looking around, but we didn’t see the pole. We figured someone had hit it.”
In the tweet on Jan. 28, Oxford Utilities stated that this was the fourth broken pole in the last nine days. Just two days before, another car hit a pole on Harris Drive, leaving 35 residents without power while the damage was repaired.
A video of the aftermath was also posted to the Barstool Ole Miss Instagram on Jan. 28, where some of the comments attributed the damage to drugs or alcohol. Jones could not speak specifically to the cause of these damages at the time.
“It’s just one of those things where we want to encourage everybody, if they’re under the influence of drink or anything like that, to not get behind the wheel of a car. Try to get a ride,” Jones said. “One of the things that we want to promote is to always try to plan ahead, if you plan on going out or going to a party or something, make sure that you have someone that’s designated to drive or you have a rideshare or taxi to get home.”
February 1 is included in the January 2021 DUI statistics due to being grouped with January 30 and 31 as the final weekend of the month in the Oxford Crime Report.