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UHP: ‘Business as usual’ as Utah enacts nation’s toughest DUI law

Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-27 13:31:26-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah will ring in the new year with the nation’s toughest anti-drunk driving law, but Utah Highway Patrol officials say troopers will not change their behavior when evaluating a driver to determine if he or she is impaired.

On December 30, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be lowered from .08 percent to .05 percent in Utah. FOX 13 spoke with local restaurant and tourism officials who say the new law will lead to a drop in business.

“It’s going to affect responsible drinkers,” said Michele Corigliano, the executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association. “That means they will be taking Lyft, just like the legislators want. It’s going to add $30 to their night and they’re going to go out less often. Instead of going out two nights a week, they’re going to go out one night a week.”

But UHP officials said it’s “business as usual” in regards to DUI investigations.

“We understand there is a fair amount of trepidation regarding this change. We hope you understand that a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is just a single component considered when assessing a driver’s potential impairment and their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle,” Col. Michael Rapich of UHP said in a video released on social media Wednesday.

According to UHP. a DUI investigation is multi-faceted and blood alcohol concentration is not the sole factor in a trooper’s decision to arrest someone suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

“UHP troopers are trained to detect driving patterns that may indicate impaired drivers. After making a traffic stop, troopers look for signs of impairment such as slurred speech, relaxed facial muscles, the odor of alcohol any other indication of potentially impairing substances,” Rapich said in the video. “If a trooper reasonably believes the driver may be impaired, field sobriety tests will likely be administered so the trooper can evaluate the driver and determine if there are additional indications of impairment.”