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Deputies: Driver arrested in Utah County had blood alcohol level 8 times legal limit


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SPANISH FORK — A 24-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of DUI after deputies said she drove erratically on a road near the sheriff's office, ultimately damaging her car to the point where it was no longer operable.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said a deputy was heading south along Main Street near the Spanish Fork-Springville border just after 8 a.m. when he noticed a white passenger car in his rearview mirror.

"There was a white passenger car behind him that hit some construction barricades, cones and they were knocked out of the way," Cannon told KSL-TV. "(The deputy) pulled over and turned his lights on, waiting for this car to pass him and make a traffic stop. The car didn't stop. It passed him, almost hit him as he was pulled over to the side of the road."

Cannon said the driver continued to swerve back and forth, hitting the curb twice and breaking the suspension on the right front wheel of her car.

"It appears to be the only reason why she stopped," Cannon said. "She was unwilling and unable to do field sobriety tests."

According to Cannon, the woman told the deputy: "Just take me to jail."

Instead, the deputy had the woman transported to the hospital, where Cannon said blood tests showed her blood alcohol level was more than eight times the legal limit at 0.411.

"She was extremely impaired — not too far below where you'd have to be concerned if they're even going to be able to survive," Cannon said. "She told the deputy that she had been intoxicated for several weeks and probably would have a difficult time coming off the alcohol."

Cannon said Lydia Nichole Nielson, of Spanish Fork, was booked into jail for investigation of DUI, driving on a suspended license, failure to operate in a single lane, and open container of alcohol.

A 24-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of DUI after deputies said she drove erratically on a road near the sheriff’s office, ultimately damaging her car to the point where it was no longer operable.
A 24-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of DUI after deputies said she drove erratically on a road near the sheriff’s office, ultimately damaging her car to the point where it was no longer operable. (Photo: Utah County Sheriff's Office)

The arrest was the latest in a trio of recent incidents around the state involving drivers found to have very high blood alcohol levels.

On Nov. 19, Utah Highway Patrol troopers stopped a driver on U.S. 89 near Wellsville in Cache County for allegedly driving 121 mph in a 65 mph zone. According to investigators, that man was found to have a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit.

Then on Saturday in Spanish Fork, police said a man also with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit sped through a parade route and ultimately hit a man and his horse.

According to a recent report issued by the Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Highway Safety Office, crashes involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher have increased by 31% since 2017.

The report also showed that since the legal limit was lowered to 0.05 on Dec. 30, 2018, total statewide DUI arrests involving higher blood alcohol concentrations tracked up to 0.47 had decreased year-to-year.

While the data showed rising numbers of arrests in which drivers either refused a blood alcohol concentration test or the blood alcohol concentration result was not received or reported back to the Driver License Division, Cannon said he also believed that a reason for the declining numbers of arrests of drivers with higher blood alcohol levels may have something to do with the lower legal limit and drivers, to some degree, being more cautious.

Still, he acknowledged, there are still many other drivers who are not being careful.

"The real risk is there's still a substantial number of people out there who just don't care," Cannon said.

He said he and others in law enforcement continue to urge people to not get behind the wheel after drinking, noting the potential for a jail stay and a costly DUI conviction.

"I've arrested hundreds of people for DUI over the years, and a fair number of those within a block of their house, and they're begging and pleading and I don't care," Cannon said. "Don't ruin other people's holidays as well as your own. Just do the right thing."

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Andrew Adams
Andrew Adams is a reporter for KSL-TV whose work can also be heard on KSL NewsRadio and read on KSL.com and in the Deseret News.

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