Utah Highway Patrol launches statewide DUI blitz looking for drunk drivers this holiday season – St George News
ST. GEORGE – Statewide DUI blitz in full swing this holiday season, a combined effort by the Utah Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies to crack down on impaired driving and reduce the number of fatal accidents.
The Utah Department of Public Safety has partnered with Intermountain Healthcare to launch this year’s campaign, titled “Every Sip Has a Consequence,” an innovative effort showcased at a press conference in Park City Friday. , which aims to prevent accidents caused by impairment. .
The effort also focuses on the dangers and moral and legal consequences of choosing to drive impaired this holiday season – a disability that begins “as soon as you start drinking,” UHP Col. Michael Rapich said.
To that end, Soldiers, MPs, and agency officers from across Utah will be out in force during the holidays, pulling DUI extra shifts in search of motorists driving under the influence.
In Utah, an average of 37 people die each year in crashes caused by a drunk driver. But last year that number nearly doubled, with 61 occupants killed in crashes involving an impaired driver, UHP Sgt. Cameron Roden told the conference, adding that “drink driving is 100% preventable”.
“Officers will be on high alert – seeking to keep impaired drivers off the roads,” he added.
Rapich, a 30-year veteran of the agency, said drinking alcohol with family and friends during the holiday season isn’t the problem – these are the “really bad decisions” some people make. by getting behind the wheel of a car when they are tampered with.
Law enforcement agencies across Utah will also be working their own DUI overtime, he added.
Crashes involving an impaired driver – an emergency doctor’s perspective
Many people involved in serious or fatal accidents end up in one of the state’s many emergency rooms. During the press conference, Dr. Wing Province, medical director of Intermountain Park City Hospital, shared some of his experiences as an emergency doctor and described the devastating injuries that can lead to accidents when a motorist decides to drive while impaired.
Province described a particularly tragic accident a few years ago involving a couple who had gone to dinner and were driving home when their vehicle was hit by a drunk driver. The couple’s vehicle was struck on the passenger side, where his wife was sitting. She was flown to hospital and pronounced dead shortly after arriving.
The man, whom the doctor called “Ed”, did not know his wife had been killed, Province said, because his wife was airlifted to hospital and he was flown overland with serious injuries. injuries.
He did not find out until later that his wife had been killed in the crash.
“I had the unfortunate task of having to tell Ed that his 50-plus-year-old sweetheart had died as a result of this accident,” Province said.
Many patients arrive at the hospital with catastrophic injuries from these types of accidents, and many do not survive these types of accidents, he said, adding that the effects on the families of those killed are completely devastating.
Medical personnel are also affected by the losses suffered, and it is often the medical personnel who are responsible for informing family members that a loved one has been killed by a drunk driver, especially during holidays.
Drunk Driving in Utah 2021
So far this year, soldiers have arrested more than 10,600 drunk drivers.
“That’s 10,600 drunk drivers who didn’t end up in a horrific event,” Rapich said.
As high as these numbers are, there have been over 1,900 impaired driver crashes that claimed the lives of 56 people.
Rapich said this year, beyond reminding motorists not to drive drunk, he wants the public to understand both the legal and emotional consequences of a fatal accident.
“You’re not getting over it. Your life is never the same again, ”he said.
Myths and effects of alcohol on the body
According to the Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are critical decision-making abilities and driving-related skills that are severely impaired by alcohol, and these abilities are already impaired long before a person shows signs of abuse. obvious signs of intoxication.
Although alcohol may initially appear to be a stimulant, as many who drink are upbeat and excited, the institute says that alcohol actually lowers inhibitions and judgment, which in turn can lead to behaviors. reckless.
The more alcohol you consume, the longer the reaction times. The ability to control behavior also continues to decay, experts say.
Alcohol can also cause fainting or blackouts resulting from intoxication, which occurs when the amount of alcohol ingested temporarily blocks the transfer of memories, both short-term and long-term memory storage. term.
Additionally, at higher levels, alcohol acts as a depressant, which can cause unconsciousness if the levels are high enough. At higher levels, those who drink may even face a potentially fatal alcohol overdose which then suppresses vital life functions.
While some may believe that they will start sobering up right after they stop drinking and have had a cup of coffee, for example, the truth is that alcohol continues to have an effect on the brain long after a person has stopped. to drink because alcohol in the stomach and intestines continues to enter the bloodstream, resulting in impaired coordination and judgment that can last for hours.
It all comes down to the consequences
A recent study by Mad Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that, on average, a motorist drove impaired more than 80 times before being stopped, which is not only shocking, Rapich said, but worrying.
Additionally, over the past 10 years, the largest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in Utah were those aged 21 to 39, and 72% of those arrested for drinking and driving. drunkenness were men.
Ultimately, what the data, statistics and information from the emergency doctor reveal is that every sip has a consequence, Rapich said, adding a message of encouragement to all drivers to do what they want. can upstream to prevent horrible things from happening.
“It’s not just statistics – it’s bad decisions that lead to violent, horrific and tragic results,” he said.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.