Summit County law enforcement agencies ramp up DUI patrolling
December 30, 2014
Everyone is encouraged to celebrate New Year’s Eve with family and friends, local law enforcement officials say.
But if you are planning on having a toast at midnight to ring in the New Year, be aware that both the Summit County Sheriff’s Department and the Park City Police Department are ramping up enforcement in an effort to deter impaired driving.
"Park City and Summit County are all working together on a unified front for increased DUI enforcement," said Park City Police Department Chief Wade Carpenter. "It’s something we do every year as we want to create the safest environment we can for our residents and guests.
"We want zero fatalities, that is our biggest goal," Carpenter added. "We want to make sure we can eliminate alcohol-related drinking and driving, and certainly enforcement has proven to be an effective means to do that."
Both law enforcement agencies in the county have said they will increase the number of officers on the road for New Year’s Eve, specifically looking for impaired drivers.
Captain Justin Martinez, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Department, said the Sheriff’s Department will double the number of deputies on duty that night.
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"We are definitely more vigilant about DUIs just because of the nature of the night," Martinez said. "Everyone tends to go out and celebrate."
The extra enforcement will be concentrated where people may be consuming alcohol and the major corridors coming in and out of Park City, Martinez said.
Last year, the Sheriff’s Department had five deputies doing traffic enforcement. The deputies conducted more than 98 traffic stops, resulting in five DUI citations and a total of nine alcohol-related incidents.
When looking for impaired drivers, law enforcement officials say they monitor driving patterns and speed, and look for unsafe driving behavior.
Martinez said the main goal for New Year’s Eve is to "keep the commuting public safe."
"That is our main goal, to keep people safe and prevent any sort of tragic situation from occurring," Martinez said. "Go out and have fun. Have a drink or two, whatever it is you prefer to do, just do it responsibly and know that we will be out there, too. Do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you have been drinking. There are plenty of cabs available or have a designated driver. Anything you can do to keep yourself and other commuters safe."
Utah law states that a driver may be charged with DUI if a chemical test reveals a blood-alcohol concentration (or BAC) of .08 percent or greater at the time of the test or if there is no chemical test, but the driver is impaired to the point that their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle no longer exists.
"DUIs are very important to prosecute because anytime you have someone who is impaired on the roadway, they are jeopardizing the lives of everyone out there," said Summit County Prosecutor Ryan Stack. "Prosecuting someone for a DUI is not prosecuting them because they drank too much. It’s not the consumption that is the issue, the issue is their decision to get behind the wheel of a car. When they put themselves behind a wheel, they are driving a loaded weapon down the road and that’s why it’s so important."
Stack encouraged people to have fun and celebrate the New Year, but responsibly.
"We don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade," he said. "Have fun with friends and family, but please do so responsibly. A decision to drink and get behind the wheel of a car impacts so many more people than just you."
- DUI Penalties and Fines in Utah
- First DUI: Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail, with a fine of approximately $1,400. State statute requires two days in jail or community service.
- Second DUI: Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 days in jail or 240 hours of community service, with a fine of approximately $1,550.
- Third DUI: Third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in jail, with a mandatory minimum of 62.5 days in jail and a minimum fine of approximately $1,550.
With any DUI, state law requires an interlock ignition device be placed on the driver’s vehicle.
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