Bars give customers a taste of jail time in effort to cut down on Halloween DUIs

Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-29 20:18:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you head out for Halloween this weekend, some bars are taking a different approach to make sure you don’t drink and drive, by showing customers what it’s like to go to jail.

Go to the bathroom at SkySLC, and you’ll be going to jail. Or at least you’ll feel like it.

“I’m really in here,” said manager Jacob Torres as he showed off the tactic they’re taking to stop customers from getting behind the wheel after they leave the downtown Salt Lake City bar.

"You see yourself in that uniform, and behind you it's your cell,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Do I want to do this? Is this worth it?’"

The wall wraps in the men’s and women’s bathrooms place patrons in a jail uniform. As you wash your hands, you are reminded of where you could end up at the end of the night.

"On the outfit it says, 'Ever wonder what a DUI looks like?'" said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lawrence Hopper.

UHP and the state Safety Office teamed up with several bars and breweries for the bathroom makeovers.

The state said when Halloween falls on a weekend as opposed to a weekday, it raises the danger on the roads.

"Statistics show 30 percent higher fatalities nationwide," said Stacey Johnson, coordinator of the state Zero Fatalities program.

Last year, she said, four people died during Halloween weekend, which she said is an unusually high number.

While bars like SkySLC do their part to keep DUIs and road fatalities down, Utah Highway Patrol will step in after last call with checkpoints and blitzes.

“Everybody that goes through the checkpoint, gets checked.” Trooper Hopper explained. “With the blitzes, it’s just saturation. Officers are going to be out on the roads.”

He said law enforcement agencies will employ those strategies across the state.

Back in the bathroom, Torres gestures to the wall across from the jail uniform-covered mirrors.

“There’s your bunkbed,” he points out.

Before UHP actually sends anyone to jail, he hopes their jail cell bathroom will make customers think twice, and find a different way home.

“Definitely sends a message,” he said. “This is kind of a shock, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this could be my little cell here. For how long?’ Not worth it at all.”

SkySLC, as well as the next-door Lumpy’s Downtown, will keep those wraps in place for the next month, to make sure patrons stay safe beyond Halloween weekend.