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First New Year’s Eve DUI blitz planned for Utah under state’s tough new .05 law

Posted at 7:45 AM, Dec 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 14:26:48-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- As revelers plan to ring in the New Year, Utah's tough new DUI law -- the strictest in the nation -- is in effect.

The law went into effect at one minute after midnight Sunday morning.

It lowers the legal content of alcohol in the bloodstream from .08 percent to .05 percent.

And over that first full day, Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrested 8 people for driving under the influence, very similar to the 10 arrested for DUI over the same time period a year ago.

For UHP troopers, it’s essentially business as usual.

They have tweaked their training a bit, making sure their portable breathalyzers are ready to read the lower blood alcohol content on a driver suspected of driving under the influence.

But before it ever gets to that stage, troopers typically already have probable cause to stop a driver.

And even though they didn’t come up with this law, those who have to enforce it hope the bottom line is safer roads for everyone out there.

"Hopefully what we see is fewer intoxicated drivers on the road, if fewer intoxicated drivers are on the road it results in fewer arrests," Col. Michael Rapich with the  Utah Highway Patrol said. "And definitely the ultimate goal is fewer injuries and fewer deaths as related to alcohol related drivers and hopefully that's what we see, that is really the intent behind the .05 change."

The Utah Highway Patrol will stage it's annual New Year's Eve DUI blitz Monday night, the first under the new law, beginning at 9 p.m.

There won’t be a specific roadblock but will be extra troopers out on the road, specifically looking for impaired drivers.

Fox 13 is working with its news partner, The Salt Lake Tribune, to get out the word on six main points of the new law.

  1. Enforcement tactics won't change.
  2. Personal alcohol limits can vary.
  3. Know your rights if you get pulled over.
  4. DUI arrests may not go up.
  5. Data will be tracked.
  6. Other states may join Utah in toughening up DUI laws.

The bottom line is if you plan to drink during the celebration of the new year, do not get behind the steering wheel.

There are many options including taxis, Lyft, Uber and assigning someone to be a designated driver.