The state of Utah recently released its seventh annual DUI report, tracking DUI arrests, accidents and fatalities in the state in 2008.
The report contained significant positive developments in overall DUI arrest and fatality numbers, as well as some illuminating facts about DUI arrests and underage drinkers.
Among the positive news in the report is a decrease in DUI fatalities in the state from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, there were 42 DUI-related fatalities. In 2008, that number dropped to 34.
Utah, which often has the lowest rate of DUI-related fatalities in the nation, fell one spot to second-lowest in 2008 – Vermont edged out Utah with the lowest rate. Utah came in with a 16.7% DUI-related fatality rate. The national average for U.S. states, according to the report, is 32 percent.
The report goes on to provide statistics about those arrested for DUI in Utah.
In the 2009 fiscal year, there were 15,683 DUI arrests, which represented a rise of 386 arrests from the previous year. Of those arrested, 76 percent were male and 10 percent were under the legal drinking age of 21.
The average blood alcohol content recorded in Utah DUI arrests was .14 percent, which is twice the legal limit of .08 percent. The highest blood alcohol content recorded in an arrest was .43 percent, which is five times the legal limit.
Of those arrested, 67 percent were first-time DUI offenders, 21 percent were second-time offenders and 8 percent were third-time offenders.
The average jail sentence for a DUI offense was 151 days, and the average fine for a DUI conviction was $1,468.
The creator of the report, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, put the spotlight on not only the overall statistical element of DUI in the state, but also on the personal impact of DUI on individuals and families.
The report’s introduction tells the story of Wendy Kerbs, a 54-year-old resident of Roy, Utah, who died tragically as a result of DUI.
Kerbs was gardening in her front yard when an SUV swerved into the yard and struck her. She died soon after.
The driver of the SUV, Richard Allan Bash, lost control of his vehicle while driving more than 50 mph down the quiet residential street. He crashed through a light pole and several trees before striking Kerbs.
Police apprehended Bash despite his attempt to flee, break into and hide in a neighboring home. He was driving under the influence of alcohol as well as other drugs, and had seven previous DUI convictions on his record.
The report also outlined state efforts to highlight the dangers of DUI, as illustrated by the Kerbs story, in an extensive media campaign.
The campaign focuses on those aged 21-34, but also targets high school and college students under age 21.
Public service announcements included radio and television ads, billboards, event displays and print ads in college newspapers. The multi-media campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.