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Alcohol-related crashes, deaths drop dramatically under .05 DUI law

FILE - The Unified Police Department conducts an Administrative DUI checkpoint in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of deaths from crashes blamed on driving under the influence has gone down 70% since Utah’s tough .05 DUI law went into effect, the toughest such law in the nation.

The number of alcohol-related crashes has also gone down 44% since New Years’ weekend, state officials said.

The Utah Highway Patrol compared data from January to March 2018 with the first three months of this year.

But Sgt. Nick Street says the law alone may not be responsible for those drops because DUIs have been going down for the past decade.

“There is a negative stigma socially attached to individuals who admit to driving drunk, the ease of ride sharing, [and] there’s more people utilizing public transportation than ever before,” Street says.

Some people started taking precautions to avoid a DUI before the law went into effect, he said.

“If you’ll remember back to the legislative session when the law was passed, a lot of people thought [it] was already in place,” Street says.

However, UHP says more people are getting arrested for driving under the influence of pot and prescription pills.