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UHP watching for drunk drivers during New Year’s “blitz”

The Unified Police Department conducts an Administrative DUI checkpoint in Salt Lake City. (PHOTO: File)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — If you drink, don’t drive. It’s a simple message, but law enforcement officials say every year a number of people ignore it and put not only their own life in danger, but the lives of everyone else on the road.

“It’s an easy choice, but it’s a horrible choice,” explains Sergeant Nick Street with Utah Highway Patrol. “The consequences can be life altering.”

Highway Patrol Troopers will be out tonight in greater numbers for their annual New Year’s DUI Blitz. Sergeant Street says at least fifty troopers will be in the Salt Lake Valley keeping an eye out for drunk drivers.

Utah has the nation’s toughest anti-drunk driving law, with a .05 blood alcohol level. With that in mind, law enforcement officials remind everyone that impairment starts with the first drink.

“You’re setting yourself up to make a bad decision,” says Sergeant Street. “It’s interesting, studies show that over-confidence is the number-one reason people get behind the wheel.”

He adds there should be no excuses tonight, since the accessibility of alternate ride-options has never been greater.

“It’s never been easier to make sure that you have a safe and sober ride home,” he explains. “Our messaging has changed to where we now tell people if you drink don’t drive, if you drink period, don’t drive.”

The message comes just hours after a fatal drunk driving crash in Taylorsville. In that wreck, one person was killed and another remains in critical condition. Cops say the vehicle that was hit was thrown at least 150 feet down the road.

Sergeant Street says the decision to drive drunk not only can ruin your life, but the life of anyone else on the road.

“It’s very selfish and there are strangers out there,” he explains. “We’re all good people, we’re all trying to get where we need to go.”