Utah drivers have long been comfortable with the idea of going over the speed limit, particularly on the highways and freeways. The general consensus seems to be that a driver won’t get pulled over unless they are going more than 9 miles per hour over the posted highway or freeway speed limit, as long as the weather conditions don’t interfere. This practice has been somewhat supported by the way law enforcement agencies have been patrolling the highway. The saying among law enforcement is purported to be “nine you’re fine, ten you’re mine.” Maybe their reluctance to stop moderate speeders is because of the abundance of paperwork it creates for not a lot of recognition or reward; maybe it’s because Utahns can be ornery and aggressive to officers who stop them for speeding; maybe it’s because the court system hasn’t backed up the officer’s citations strongly enough. Who knows? But as the speed limits have gradually been raised on the highway and freeway systems over the years, and as more and more drivers fill up Utah roads, the situation has gotten out of control. In fact, Utahns consistently poll as being some of the rudest, worst drivers in the nation—although data doesn’t back that up, it certainly FEELS that way sometimes!
Well, all that may change next month when the speed limit changes on I-15 along the Wasatch Front from 65 to 70 mph. If you think that means you can safely go 80, think again. According to this article on KSL.com, it appears that the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) has finally decided to start doing something to curb the excessive speeding that causes so many accidents in Utah every year and start actually pulling more people over for that infraction.
For drivers who do consume alcohol, this is further bad news because it gives the officers another reason to pull a driver over, and if you have had any alcohol to drink, the trooper will likely ask you out of your vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. If you don’t perform perfectly on the SFSTs or other parts of the investigation, you will likely be arrested for DUI.
Typically, lane travel violations like weaving within or crossing over lines are a more common reason to be reported on by fellow drivers to 911 or pulled over by an officer and investigated for drunk driving. Equipment violations such as no mud flaps; no license plate light or visible license plate; expired registration; and brake, tail, or headlights out are also extremely common reasons for those flashing lights to flip on. A crack-down on speeding is one more way to be investigated for DUI, but it is one that can easily be avoided by simply driving the speed limit and not pushing that myth that you will not get stopped if you are only going 5 to 9 miles over the speed limit.
So don’t get caught up in the myth that a 70 MPH speed limit means you can go up to 79 without fear of being stopped. Plan a little more time to get to your destination, plan a designated driver, and plan for the weather. Make the commitment now to SLOW DOWN out there and drive safely!