UHP issues holiday reminder to not drive while impaired by drink or drugs

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. The UHP has also seen an increase in arrests for his DUI involving drugs. (Christine Murphy, Deseret News)

Estimated duration: 3-4 minutes

Taylorville — Utah Highway Patrol wants people to have a good time this holiday season with Christmas parties, family gatherings and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

However, if you do drink, be responsible and plan ahead and arrange for someone else to drive.

On Wednesday, UHP issued an annual reminder for drivers not to drink and drive while on vacation, adding that troopers will look for disabled drivers and work overtime DUI shifts from now until Jan. 1. But in addition to drinking, UHP Sgt. Jared Cornier said Utah, like other countries, has seen an increase in crashes caused by drug-impaired drivers.

According to the UHP, the most common substances arrested for DUI after drinking alcohol include marijuana, opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl, stimulants such as cocaine and stimulants, and sedatives such as antidepressants and panic disorder medications. included.

More than half of the toxicology tests performed on people arrested in DUI investigations this year and last year found drugs in people’s bodies in addition to alcohol, according to the Utah Public Health Institute.

As of Tuesday, the UHP had recorded 290 fatalities, with 312 fatalities in 2022, 43 of which were alcohol-related. According to UHP, he had 293 crashes last year that resulted in 328 deaths, 61 of which were alcohol-related. As of Tuesday, there were a total of 918 alcohol-related crashes in 2021, compared to 818 in 2022.

According to UHP statistics, the average blood alcohol level of those arrested for DUI in Utah this year is 0.14%, nearly three times the legal limit. The highest blood alcohol level recorded by a police officer from 2022 to Tuesday was 0.46%, more than nine times his limit.

Accidents and DUI arrests were similar this year and last year, but the 0.05% blood alcohol limit in 2019 made a difference, Cornia said.

“I see a change in people’s behavior. Before the 0.05 change, I could go out and do an overtime shift for a DUI. Now we have to stop 20 to 25 cars, people make decisions more responsibly, so finding the same DUI, and that’s the ultimate goal. , changing people’s behavior and separating drinking and driving,” he said.

One problem that troopers still see is that drivers who responsibly ride after drinking will try to drive themselves again hours later.

“The biggest thing we see is people’s overconfidence. (They say) ‘Hey, I feel better now. But you still have a roadblock.

On average, when you stop drinking, your blood alcohol level drops by 0.15% to 0.20% every hour. But both Slauson and Cornier encourage the public not to rely on math to determine if they’re okay to drive.

“I think the bottom line is don’t make assumptions or do the math in your head to determine if you’re sober, because regardless of the numbers in your bloodstream, it doesn’t mean you’re not. Because it’s not there, it’s spoiled,” Slawson said.

“If something feels different, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. If it feels different, you drive differently,” Cornia added. “Even if you think you’re okay, it might not be. If you’re feeling high or slightly high, don’t drive.”

The Utah Highway Safety Department has funded a toxicology faculty position at the Utah Public Health Laboratory to specifically focus on DUI arrests over the past two years.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and court reporter. He joined his team at KSL.com in 2021 after years of reporting with Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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