UHP adding extra shifts for New Year’s Day weekend to crack down on DUI

Posted at 6:47 PM, Dec 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-31 20:47:12-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Highway Patrol is kicking into high gear for the new year, but it's not just New Year's Eve they're worried about when it comes to drunk drivers.

Sergeant Todd Royce said he hopes they won't see the same numbers they experienced last year.

"We arrested 72 DUIs over that same time frame," he said, adding: "We had about a half-dozen DUI-related crashes, and a couple DUI-related fatalities."

But it'll be hard to cut that number down, he said, because the timing this year will prove more of a challenge. With New Year's Eve on a Thursday, it means many have Friday off, creating a long weekend.

Sgt. Royce expects the partying and DUIs to extend far beyond ringing in 2016.

"So maybe they'll continue their partying Friday night or Saturday night, and have false sense of security thinking, 'OK, I can just drive home. There's not as many officers out,'" Royce said.

That thought is exactly the opposite of what UHP has planned.

They'll be beefing up patrols all weekend long, saturating the streets to catch those who have had too much.

He said they've got 112 extra shifts working throughout the three days.

Sgt. Royce hopes the threat of police presence will make people think twice, and find a safe way home as they start the new year.

"If you have anything to drink tonight, tomorrow night, or anytime--that you find someone to give you a ride home. That you have a designated driver," he said.

Other options include Tipsy Tow, a service where a driver can get their car towed and a ride home for free. Sgt. Royce also said many cab companies are offering free service. Several bars, he added, will pay for a cab ride home and some insurance companies will even reimburse cab fares.

UHP expects to begin the increased patrols around 9 p.m. New Year's Eve, with an intense focus in the hours after midnight.