CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

DUI arrests over holiday weekend in Utah nearly double last year’s count

Jan 3, 2024, 7:00 AM

UHP Major Steve Salas urged people to plan how they're getting home from holiday celebrations....

FILE: UHP Major Steve Salas urged people to plan how they're getting home from holiday celebrations. (Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY —  Throughout New Year’s weekend — Friday through Monday — 70 drivers were arrested for DUI in Utah. That’s nearly double the number of arrests (36) from the previous year. The better news is that no deaths or injuries were reported.

Almost half of those arrests involved narcotics said Sgt. Cameron Roden with Utah Highway Patrol.

“A lot of [DUIs] actually involve both alcohol and drugs,” Roden told KSL NewsRadio. “So it’s something that everybody needs to be aware of, especially just knowing that it’s not just alcohol.

 

“There’s other things, too, that can impair your ability to drive,” said Roden, reminding people taking prescription medicines to make sure they don’t impair their driving.

The high number comes despite Utah’s tough DUI law, which is the strictest in the nation.  Drivers in Utah with a blood alcohol concentration of .05% are considered to be “driving under the influence” (DUI).

Is the law too strict?

Can more arrests correlate to how strict the law is, and, is it too strict?

Roden said that when the stricter law went into effect, UHP surveyed Utahns. They asked drivers if a stronger law would affect their decision to drink and drive.

“A good number of those people said ‘Yes, I’m going to plan that sober ride home,'” he said, “and then going into 2019, we saw a significant decrease in impaired driving deaths …  we want to get back to that.” 

Are other resources needed?

On the Friday ahead of the long holiday, the Utah Transit Authority said most buses would end service at or before 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. All TRAX train lines would shut down by or before midnight. 

Would more public transportation options lower the number of DUI arrests during the New Year’s weekend in Utah?

“How much that actually plays into it, you know, we would have to look at that a little bit more, but there are so many other options than considering driving if you’re impaired,” Roden said.

Other options are out there, he said, such as taking an Uber, Lyft or calling a friend for a safe ride home.

Related:

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DUI arrests over holiday weekend in Utah nearly double last year’s count