For the past three years, a concerted effort has been made by the Richfield City Police Department to find people who are driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
While there is a lot of effort to remind people not to drink and drive, it turns out that alcohol isn’t the primary problem on the roads.
Each year since the effort began, Richfield’s police have been able to nab more than 100 DUIs during the year. Each year, drugs were the primary cause of DUIs — not alcohol.
Last year Utah’s Legislature enacted a law that changed the legal blood alcohol concentration to .05 from .08. While the intention is to discourage people from driving under the influence, it’s a law that isn’t likely to have a tangible effect.
In practice, the law wasn’t going to change much. Police officers have to enforce DUIs through observable impairment.
Cops are looking for people who drive erratically, or who show other signs of not being fully in control of their vehicles while on the road. The BAC level is secondary to that, and always will be.
As it turns out the much larger problem is people driving while on methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs. Methamphetamines were the largest contributing factor to DUIs in Richfield in 2017 and 2018, with marijuana being the most used substance in DUI arrests through 2019.
So while trying to curb drunk driving is always an admirable goal, the real problem that needs to be addressed is how to stop illegal drug users from driving while high.
People who drive while under the influence have a high potential of being a danger to themselves and others on the road. People still get killed in DUI accidents. Oftentimes, those who get killed are not the ones who are driving while intoxicated — they are innocent victims who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Beyond the possibility of causing an accident, people who drive while impaired are putting their futures into jeopardy. DUI arrests can result in jail time, license suspension or revocation, as well as thousands of dollars in legal and criminal fees.
DUIs are not the only thing that can cause accidents. Speeding, talking on the cell phone, texting, fatigued or inattentive driving and not using turn signals are all factors that can contribute to serious accidents. These interferences are all things that people can control with common sense.