A look at drunk driving in Utah

Utah drivers can and should be concerned about the rate of drunk driving accidents and associated injuries and deaths. A Century Council report utilizing 2011 data shows that the state had over 6,000 DUI arrests that year and 34 deaths from accidents involving alcohol. Repeat offenders continue to be of additional concern due to their sometimes higher blood alcohol levels. Every single repeat offender involved in a fatal drunk driving accident that year had blood alcohol levels over 0.15 percent.

Salt Lake County leads the state in DUI deaths

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports from 2012 show that the greatest number of fatalities from alcohol-related crashes happened in Salt Lake County.

Detailed information includes:

  • A total of eight lives were lost in Salt Lake County due to drunk drivers.
  • The eight deaths accounted for 23.5 percent of the state's total DUI deaths.
  • Tooele County had six DUI deaths and Summit County had four.
  • Drunk driving deaths represented 12.5 percent of all vehicular fatalities in Salt Lake County.

In all, 34 people lost their lives at the hands of drunk drivers around the state of Utah in 2012.

Current headlines support the concern

News stories about drunk driving accidents are all too easy to find. One story published by the local Fox affiliate in Salt Lake City recounted an accident in which an alleged drunk driver hit another vehicle. In the crash, the intoxicated driver's passenger was ejected from the vehicle and ultimately died from her injuries.

Another story run by KUTV outlined the events of one of the two statewide DUI deaths over the recent Memorial Day weekend. The accident happened on I-15 in Salt Lake City and involved a 21-year old woman allegedly drunk at the time who hit an SUV carrying a family of three head-on when driving the wrong way on the freeway.

Options to improve safety

The NHTSA and the Automobile Coalition for Traffic Safety are together looking at ways to reduce the instances of drunk driving. Ignition interlock devices are sometimes required for people with prior offenses who are convicted again. However, new technology is being investigated that would make IIDs easier to use. It even includes a form of IID that measures blood alcohol levels by touch.

According to one article, the systems could be built into vehicles and not even necessarily require a DUI offense in order to be used. No details are available as to a potential timeline for such products to be utilized.

Victims deserve help and compensation

Anyone who is involved in a drunk driving accident or who has lost a loved one at the expense of a drunk driver should contact an attorney. Getting help after such an incident can be the best way to receive appropriate compensation.