Highway Safety

Impaired Driving

Don’t Count On Luck To Get You Home This St. Patrick’s Day

Plan a sober ride – Increased DUI enforcement blitzes during the holiday weekend

Salt Lake City, UT, March 13th, 2024 – St. Patrick’s Day is often one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. If you or members of your group are going to drink, the Utah Department of Public Safety wants you to plan ahead by arranging a sober ride home. It’s simple–If you feel different, you drive different, so don’t let your luck run out.

“Alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana, or any combination of impairing substances can affect your safe decision-making and driving ability. Buzzed driving is drunk driving,” said Major Jeff Nigbur with the Utah Highway Patrol. “Significant law enforcement efforts will occur throughout the state on St. Patrick’s Day weekend to deter and detect impaired drivers. 35 Police agencies will work over 180 additional DUI overtime enforcement shifts statewide from March 15th-17th.”  Shifts are funded by federal grants through the Utah Highway Safety Office.  Learn more at drivesober.utah.gov. The high-visibility enforcement and DUI safety messages will run paid ads in English and Spanish on Meta, Google, and Amazon. 

Impaired Driving Facts: 

  • Alcohol-related crashes are 13.6 times more likely to result in a fatality than all other types of crashes
  • The average BAC for alcohol-related DUI arrests in Utah is 0.15 (three times the legal limit)
  • Alcohol-related fatalities accounted for 16.7% of all traffic fatalities from 2019 to 2023
  • In 2023 (SFY), there were 11,246 DUI arrests in Utah; that’s an average of 31 arrests per day

The Utah Department of Public Safety encourages everyone to take the following safety precautions: 

  • If you drink, don’t drive – Impairment starts with the first drink
  • Never let a friend drive impaired. Arrange a safe and sober way for them to get home
  • Any impairing substance could lead to a DUI.  Medications, drugs, or any combination with alcohol can significantly affect your judgment and driving ability. 
  • Designate a sober driver in your group before going out 
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 911
  • Always drive buckled; it’s your best defense against impaired drivers

Enforcement Efforts

A DUI can quickly turn your celebrations into a moment of distress and regret. Luck won’t save the buzzed or impaired driver from a DUI. If you plan to drink on St. Patrick’s Day, plan a sober ride.

Law enforcement will be working extra DUI shifts, actively patrolling for impaired drivers throughout the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.   

Over 180 extra DUI shifts are being worked by 35 Utah law enforcement agencies statewide. This high-visibility enforcement and media campaign is in addition to enforcement already happening on the roads. We’re notifying the public in advance about the increased DUI enforcement statewide, hoping to prevent people from choosing to drive after consuming alcohol or taking impairing drugs.

Consequences Of A DUI

Impaired Driving Statistics

  • In 2023 (SFY), there were 11,246 DUI arrests in Utah; that’s an average of 31 arrests per day.  (2022 data shows 10,412 DUI arrests)
  • Last year (2022), 174 individuals died on Utah roads due to an impaired driver. (drug and alcohol-related)  (2021 showed 157 drug and alcohol-related  fatalities)
  • Of the 265 fatalities that have already occurred in 2023, 96 involved a drug or alcohol-related (positive) driver. (as of 12/13/22)
  • In 2022, there were 69 alcohol-related fatalities on Utah roads (2021 showed 61)
  • Alcohol-related fatalities accounted for 15% of all traffic fatalities from 2017 to 2021. 
  • Utah crash data from 2017-2021 shows that alcohol-related driver crashes are 11.9 times more likely to be fatal than other crashes.

0.05 BAC Limit Law

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a driver with a .05 BAC is twice as likely to be involved in a crash than a driver with no alcohol in their system.

The primary goal of the BAC change in Utah is to separate the activity of drinking from the activity of driving a vehicle, thus saving lives on Utah roadways. Simply put, “If You Drink, Don’t Drive.”Law enforcement officers continue to make stops and arrests based on observed signs of impairment. By focusing on impairment instead of the BAC level, officers will be able to identify and arrest both alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired drivers on Utah roadways.

Responsible Behavior

(Source: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving)  

  • Plan your safe ride home before you start the party, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver.
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home. 
  • If you drink, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, a ride-hailing service, or a sober friend. 
  • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt — it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 911. Some of the signs of impaired driving are:
(Source: NHTSA DWI Detection Guide)

  • Drifting during a turn or curve
  • Inattentiveness to surroundings
  • Swerving or weaving across lanes 
  • Stopping too far, too short, too jerky, and having a slow response at traffic signals
  • Driving without headlights on at night
  • Varying speed or driving too slow (approximately 10+ mph under the speed limit)


For more information about Drive Sober programs, please contact:
Lynda Hansen, Impaired Driving Program Manager

Media Contact:
Jason Mettmann, Communications Manager

Highway Safety Latest News

More News