DUIs Up in Amish Country

Every community everywhere faces concerns dealing with crime. No matter where you are, it seems that no place is immune. Such is the case even in Amish country. The Amish are having their own run-ins with the law more frequently than most people imagine. An Amish man charged with driving drunk?

Even in Lancaster County, crimes such as DUI, sexual abuse and other crimes that the rest of the world must also contend with are now coming to Old Order Mennonite communities as well. Elders within the order say that because of an increase in the overall Amish population as well as the challenges with the sharp rise in technology has caused more Amish to find themselves facing charges.

According to one director of parole and probation services, an estimated 9,000 people within Lancaster County are currently under court supervision. Of these, approximately 100 are Old Order Mennonites. The Internet, smart phones and other distractions have caused the community to watch their children more diligently. Elders and others within the community make it a point to warn young people to stay away from the Internet and these tempting devices because they simply don’t want their communities to be exposed to them. Unfortunately, however, these things are everywhere, especially when the Amish must interact with the rest of the world outside their own community.

Because young men who are brought up in Amish communities are allowed to drive motor vehicles up until the time they join the church, there has been an increased incidence of DUI charges. According to elders, this is accepted because they are not technically yet within the church. This is regarded as part of “sowing their wild oats” before settling down to a life of austerity and strict responsibility that is dictated by the Church.

Area law enforcement say that even those who are in horse and buggy or on bicycles who are driving under the influence of alcohol can still be charged with DUI because it is still a vehicle and is on the road.