Driving under the influence (DUI) of either drugs or alcohol opens you, your passengers and other people on the road to the risk of crashes, injuries and fatalities. In Utah, DUIs account for approximately 9 percent of all crash fatalities, and reducing the number of accidents caused by impaired driving is a huge priority for lawmakers. Finding out the statistics for DUIs in Utah, the laws governing driving under the influence of alcohol, and how many people are injured or killed as a result each year illustrates the severity of the consequences of drunk driving.
DUI Laws in Utah
The legal definition of what constitutes a DUI for alcohol is dependent on the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver. For drivers ages 21 or older, anybody driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is considered to be driving under the influence. This corresponds to a 160-pound adult consuming four drinks (such as a 12 fl. oz. beer or a 5 fl. oz. glass of wine) in an hour, although it would be considered impaired driving after three drinks. For those under 21, who can’t legally consume alcohol, there is a zero tolerance (“not a drop”) law in Utah, so any alcohol whatsoever detected in the driver’s system means a DUI.
For a first DUI offense in Utah, the punishment is a minimum of 48 hours in jail, $700 or more in fines and a license suspension for 120 days. This increases to a minimum of 10 days in jail, $800 in fines and a two-year suspension for a second offense, and over two months in jail, $1,500 in fines and a two-year suspension for a third offense. If it’s the second or third offense, an ignition interlock device (requiring the driver to pass a Breathalyzer test before the engine will start) is fitted to the driver’s vehicle.
DUI Stats – Accidents and Deaths
According to the 2013 Annual DUI Report to the Utah Legislature, 3.4 percent of all crashes in Utah in 2012 were related to alcohol, and 1.1 percent were related to drugs. In the same year, almost 400 people were injured in drug-related accidents and over 1,000 were injured in alcohol-related accidents. The number of fatalities from alcohol-related DUIs decreased from 2011 to 2012, from 39 down to 20 deaths, but those 20 deaths still represent 9.2 percent of all crash fatalities in the state. For drugs, the corresponding figures showed an increase from 2011 to 2012, from 30 to 37, with those 37 representing 17.1 percent of all crash fatalities in 2012.
DUI Stats – Arrests
In the 2013 financial year, there were 12,227 arrests for DUIs in Utah, which represents a decrease from the previous year of 6 percent. Close to 81 percent of these arrests were for drunk driving, drugged driving or a combination of the two, and the average BAC at the time of arrest was 0.146 percent. The highest BAC recorded was over five times the legal limit, 0.42 percent, which is a physically dangerous concentration in its own right, made drastically more so when the person is behind the wheel. Out of all arrests, 4.5 percent were under the “not a drop” law for drivers under 21.
Don’t Take the Risk – Don’t Drink and Drive
Drunk driving in Utah accounts for a significant proportion of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the state’s roads. Drinking and driving is never advised, and if you’ve consumed enough to even approach the legal limit, it’s best to call a cab or a friend and pick up your car in the morning. The risks, as illustrated by the statistics on DUIs in the state, are too significant to take.