SALT LAKE CITY — Forty-two drivers were arrested on state highways for suspicion of driving impaired during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Utah Highway Patrol officials said.
That’s a slight increase from 38 during the holiday weekend last year, according to UHP Sgt. Nick Street. Twenty-two of the arrests in 2019 came on Saturday.
Of course, laws have changed between the holiday in 2018 and 2019. Utah lowered the threshold for a DUI from .08 percent blood alcohol content to .05 percent during that time.
UHP declined to say how many of impairment arrests were between .05 and .079 BAC because Street said it’s still too early for troopers to know how many DUIs were related to the law change.
“A lot of the numbers that might have alcohol under .08 BAC are arrests where there was also polydrug use — the combination of (illicit or prescription) drugs and alcohol,” he explained.
In many of those cases where impairment is suspected, police may seek a blood draw because it offers a more accurate result and can pick up drugs a breathalyzer test can’t. It typically takes three to six weeks for any blood draw results to come in.
The delay is why Street said the agency is still compiling its first batch of DUI numbers related to the law change, which happened on Dec. 29.
In all, UHP had 75 addition shifts statewide over the holiday weekend. Street saw a major win within the statistics.
“In our jurisdiction, we didn’t see any DUI-related fatal crashes,” he said.