DUI enforcement ramped up for New Year’s Eve
Revelers are encouraged to celebrate the holidays and even have a toast at midnight to "Auld Lang Syne" if they are of the legal drinking age.
But Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez cautions everyone bringing in the New Year to be aware that local law enforcement officers in Summit County and Park City will be concentrating their efforts on deterring impaired driving.
"Feel free to drink, but make sure you have a designated driver and aren’t putting the public in danger," Martinez said. "We will be out looking for people who have been drinking and driving. There are so many options available between cabs and friends or just staying at a hotel that is an extremely foolish thing to attempt."
Sheriff’s deputies and Park City Police Officers will be working with the Utah Highway Patrol that night and increasing the number of officers on the road, specifically monitoring impaired driving.
"There is definitely communication between Park City Chief Wade Carpenter and I and I also communicate with Lt. Randall Richey with the Utah Highway Patrol," Martinez said. "We communicate and coordinate to make sure we can utilize our resources collectively and we are not duplicating each others efforts."
At least five deputies from the Sheriff’s Office will be on patrol the night of New Year’s Eve, he said, adding local law enforcement officers won’t conduct DUI checkpoints. Martinez said enforcement will be focused on general areas, although he recognizes that State Road 224 and State Road 248 are the preferred routes in and out of Park City.
"But that doesn’t mean people aren’t familiar with the backroads when they are leaving a party at their friends’ house in Silver Creek or Pinebrook," Martinez said. "When you think about it, it seems like a majority of the cars think they can bypass the main roads."
Phil Kirk, Park City Police captain, said several additional officers have been scheduled for New Year’s Eve.
"We are putting more officers out there," Kirk said. "We notice that there are more impaired drivers at that time of the year for obvious reasons and we will step up our efforts."
When looking for signs of impaired driving, officers typically watch for driver errors such as swerving, not using a turn signal and excessive or reduced speeds.
"Go out and enjoy, celebrate it, but do it responsibly and make sure that before you get behind a wheel, even the next day, that all toxins are 100 percent out of your body," Martinez said.
Utah law states that anyone driving a vehicle with a .08 percent or above blood alcohol concentration can be charged with impaired driving. There is zero tolerance for drivers under the age of 21.
The penalties and fines for driving under the influence vary depending on several circumstances, including the number of offenses the driver has had, if there is a passenger involved and if the incident causes bodily harm. A first or second offense is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable upon conviction by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
AAA is offering a ‘Tipsy Tow’ service up to 10 miles on New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, until 6 a.m. Friday, Jan. 1. Contact 800-222-4357 for more information.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.