A concerted effort by the Utah Highway Patrol has resulted in some of the lowest DUI statistics in the nation.
According to recent state statistics, 16 percent of traffic deaths were DUI-related, which translates into the lowest number of DUI-related deaths in the country. The low numbers are the result of increased efforts by the Highway Patrol to stop drunk drivers. Increased diligence and traffic stops resulted in a 25 percent increase in DUI arrests, which led to the lower death rate.
In addition to having the lowest DUI rate in the nation, Utah also has some of the most punishing DUI laws on the books. A first-time DUI offender can have his or her license suspended, in addition to receiving two days of prison time and fines of up to $1,500. A first-time offender may also be required to have an ignition interlock system installed, which requires the driver to blow into a tube for an instant breathalyzer test. Any sign of alcohol would prevent the driver from starting the vehicle.
A repeat DUI offense could result in immediate jail time, up to 240 hours, in a state where the average DUI prison term is five months or more and a minimum of three years using the ignition interlock system. A third offense could result in a prison term of up to five years. Aside from the heavy police oversight, the Utah courts have shown little patience with DUI offenders, and judges routinely hand down the harshest sentences possible.
The effort could wane a bit as police resources are being used elsewhere, but the harsh penalties remain. Anyone charged with a DUI in Utah or any other state is advised to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.