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BOUNTIFUL — A series of 8-foot tall police “nutcracker” statuettes greeted liquor store customers during the holiday season with an important message about drunk driving: “Officers are cracking down on drunk driving. Drive sober or get pulled over.”
The larger-than-life officers were on display at the Bountiful State Liquor Store. Dozens of officers from many jurisdictions gathered there Wednesday morning. The officers said they hope the giant nutcrackers, painted up in law enforcement attire, will be an unforgettable reminder.
"They're a great visual image," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Ted Tingey. "Just by somebody walking into the liquor store and seeing this, maybe they'll think, 'Oh, maybe I'd better think twice before I decide to have that drink and then drive.' "
Alcohol sales in December typically increase about 33 percent from November each year, so the opportunities for drinking and driving increase significantly.
"I think they believe that they feel that they're just buzzed and therefore they're okay to drive," said Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross.
Chief Ross has made many DUI stops in his career, and said many drivers have the mindset of "It will never happen to me."
Davis County Judge Thomas Kay said many DUI defendants are surprised at what their actions will cost them.
"You're going to pay $2,500 for your first DUI in fees and fines," said Second District Court Judge Thomas Kay. "If you hire a lawyer, you may pay another $2,000."
This unusual anti-dui approach is not a new tactic for Utah police officers. Last Halloween, officers warned people to avoid becoming one of the "walking dead" because of a DUI by using people dressed as zombies.
At a Utes football game, officers handed out barbeque sauce to tailgaters, with a "Don't get sauced and drive" message.
"If we find you out there, we are going to arrest you," Tingey said. "You are going to go to jail, and I guarantee you that's not how you want to spend Christmas morning — in jail."
The nutcrackers will be a traveling exhibit which will be on display at the Bountiful Liquor Store until Dec. 23. Then the exhibit will move to other liquor stores and be dispalyed through Jan. 2.