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Almost a death a day in Utah during '100 Deadliest Days'

(Alex Cabrero/KSL)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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LEHI — As soon as a DUI checkpoint began, Lehi police detective Bill Loveridge almost became a statistic.

Loveridge was one of dozens of officers setting up the checkpoint when a car hit a cone and swerved toward him.

“He was moving at a high rate of speed. He didn't see me in my vest with the cones out there and almost hit me,” Loveridge said.

The driver, an 18-year old, told officers he had been drinking alcohol.

"I don't take it personal or even get mad at it. It does frustrate me that people still feel they're OK to do so,” Loveridge said.

After things settled down, Loveridge’s fellow officers starting joking with him.

Loveridge is one of four law enforcement officers featured on the Utah Department of Public Safety’s “Don’t Drink and Drive” public awareness truck. The picture of his face was looking at the real Loveridge just as he jumped out of the way.

“Yeah, my friends kind of tease me about it, and I don’t feel any more pressure than normal with it to find these drunk drivers,” said Loveridge with a laugh.

However, DUI numbers from this past Labor Day weekend aren’t something to laugh about. The Utah Highway Patrol made 52 DUI arrests. There were 100 crashes and, unfortunately, two people died.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, called the hundred deadliest days, there were 96 deaths on Utah roads. That’s almost one every single day.

Troopers say alcohol was involved in a lot of them.

“The motoring public doesn't even know these individuals are driving right next to them on the freeway,” said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Ted Tingey. “You have no idea who is in that other vehicle when you’re out there. That’s why we are here. These checkpoints have been proven effective in deterring drunk drivers out there. The main reason for doing them is to save lives.”

However, there are those who say DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.

Tingey said he's heard it before.

"Some people don't like what we're doing out here, but the other way around, do you want us to put these people right back on the road with you and me driving out there in that condition? I'm sure the answer is going to be no,” Tingey said.

Tingey said anyone can look up how many people die from DUI crashes. That’s a known quantity. However, no one knows for sure how many lives are saved from arresting drunk drivers and getting them off the roads.

"Let’s get them off the roads, let’s get them to jail, get them some treatment, and let’s help turn their lives around,” Tingey said.

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Alex Cabrero

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