In the United States, the fatality rate attributed to drunk driving is 32%; in Utah the alcohol fatality rate is 16%–half the national rate, and the lowest in the country. Yet the number and strictness of DUI laws in Utah are increasing along with citations. New Year’s Eve is just one more holiday that is targeted for potential drinking and driving arrests by police.
On December 30th, the day before New Year’s Eve, the Utah Highway Patrol received a $5,000 donation from Good Wheels Foundation, a charitable program made up of 150 Utah-franchised New Car Dealers of Utah who assist members of the community in need. Over the last eight years, this foundation has donated $100,000 to the Utah Highway Patrol in 2010 in the effort to keep people in Utah safe. This latest donation put a couple dozen more troopers on the road during the weekend holiday. With donations like these, it may soon be possible for UHP to do checkpoints every weekend in 2011.
Utah’s Highway Patrol alone arrested 69 people at checkpoints on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Fifty-four people were arrested on suspicion of drinking alcohol and driving, five others were arrested for driving under the influence of other drugs, five were underage, and five others were arrested for not having interlock devices in their cars, making them repeat offenders.
We are going to be seeing a steady increase of discipline and aggressive force out on the roads by police to catch people who drink and drive. Officials in other states, such as Florida and California, are initiating what is called “No Refusal DUI Checkpoints.” These checkpoints are unique because, if you refuse a breath test, there is a judge on site who will issue a warrant that will allow the police to stick a needle in your arm and take your blood right there at the checkpoint. This is bothersome to most DUI attorneys because it can be seen as a direct violation of US citizens’ civil rights. You either give them a breath test, or they will take your blood. These checkpoints are not yet happening in Utah, but it’s only a matter of time that they will be used here if they are deemed successful in other states.
DUI checkpoints can be intimidating and scary, even for the innocent. Schatz, Anderson & Associates attorney Charles Stewart recently was able to have one of the Utah DUI checkpoints from the summer of 2010 declared un-Constitutional. Read more about this on the City Weekly website at http://cityweekly.net/utah/article-12900-south-salt-lake-dui-checkpoint-gets-a-judicial-drubbing.html.
The bottom line: Law enforcement is getting more aggressive about drinking and driving. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more and more DUI checkpoints popping up around Utah, particularly on the weekends and major holidays. If you are unfortunate enough to get caught in one of these checkpoints, contact the Utah DUI attorneys at Schatz, Anderson & Associates to receive a free consultation about your case.