The Utah Highway Patrol recently reported an increase in Utah drunk driving arrests during the New Years’ Eve holiday. UHP officers arrested at least 107 for drunk driving between Dec. 28 and Jan. 1 which is up from 93 DUI arrests during the same period last year.
The extra DUI enforcement shifts were funded by the Utah Highway Safety Office and a $5,000 donation by the New Car Dealers of Utah. The car dealer donation funded about 20 of the extra DUI overtime shifts.
The bump in UHP drunk driving arrests comes at a time when one UHP officer is making national news for faking drunk driving arrests. Former UHP Corporal Lisa Steed was named trooper of the year in 2007 but then fired last November amid claims that she arrested dozens of sober people for drunk driving and lied about their cases in court.
The New York Times recently ran an expose on Steed’s case including coverage of a lawsuit brought by people who claim to be wrongfully arrested by Steed.
“We were all separately getting calls about Lisa Steed from people saying: ‘I was pulled over. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. She told me I smelled like alcohol, but I hadn’t been drinking,’ ” one attorney told the New York Times. “They would pass the sobriety test with flying colors. But Steed would say they were still impaired and arrest them.”
At least 40 people claim to have been falsely arrested by Steed. The lawyers representing these people say that although their cases were often reduced or dropped for lack of evidence, their clients still had to pay over $1,000 in court costs.
A 2010 internal police memorandum also found that Steed was falsely arresting individuals in marijuana-impairment cases.
Lawyers representing wrongfully arrested individuals are pushing forward with their cases as Steed appeals her termination.
“The 40 or so individuals that have contacted us have to be the tip of the iceberg because Steed arrested many other people,” one attorney said. “Her actions are so blatant, that it is probable that she acted like this in an untold number of cases.”
Source: Cache Valley Daily, “UHP makes 107 DUI arrests on New Year’s weekend,” Jan. 2, 2013