Utah: DUI arrests down and alcohol fatalities up in recent years

Utah HP on traffic stopFrom Dessert News

SALT LAKE CITY — Police in Utah arrested about 30 people every day for driving under the influence of alcohol last year.

If that seems like a lot, consider that in 2009 the average number of daily arrests reached nearly 43.

DUI arrests have dropped dramatically statewide the past few years. While the state’s population continues to grow, the DUI arrest rate has declined nearly 36 percent since 2009, according the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice’s 2014 DUI report to the Legislature.

But when drunken drivers are pulled over in Utah, they face some of the toughest laws in the country.

A WalletHub analysis released last week shows Utah has the seventh strictest DUI laws among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. WalletHub, a personal finance social network, rated the states based on minimum jail time and fines for first and second offenses, how long previous DUIs factor into penalties, license suspension and average insurance rate increases after a conviction.

In Utah, a first-time offender gets at least two days in jail, while that increases to 10 days on the second offense. A third offense is a felony.

“I think the laws are good but they’re not perfect,” said Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan.

Redd ran a bill this past year to ensure convicted drunk drivers prove they have access to a car equipped with an ignition interlock before the motor vehicle division reinstates their licenses. Utah requires the device on all DUI convictions.

The legislation easily passed the House but wasn’t voted on in the Senate. Redd intends to bring it back next year. ….MORE