Drunk driving previews from BYU students set to hit Utah theaters
SALT LAKE CITY — Coming soon to a theater near you: a movie preview featuring the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.
Law enforcement and the Utah Highway Safety Office have teamed up with film students from Brigham Young University to create "movie trailers" that will be shown at all Larry H. Miller Megaplex theaters and Cinemark theaters during May, June and July.
The public safety campaign was launched Thursday at the Gateway Megaplex Theaters to prevent drunk driving.
"DUI is one of those crimes that is very preventable, and, in fact, should not occur," said Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank. "It is needless, it is absolutely senseless that any individual would ever fall victim to a DUI who's driving intoxicated and crashes their car."
Besides the movie previews, the Utah High Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be patrolling for DUIs and setting up sobriety checkpoints this summer.
Last summer from May to August, nearly 4,000 arrests were made in Utah for driving under the influence. According to Utah Highway Patrol, there were 20 DUI–involved fatalities in 2012, and the numbers are looking similar for 2013.
"It would be tremendous if we could go a year in this state without having a fatality that involves someone who is driving intoxicated," Burbank said. "There is no question in my mind that we together can prevent DUIs. And so (it's) no small goal, but I put that forth as a challenge."
Burbank said prevention is key, and pleaded for people going out to drink to make arrangements beforehand.
"For those who plan to kick back during the summer and have a few drinks, please find a safe way home," said Dwayne Baird of the Utah Department of Public Safety, calling impaired driving a significant problem in the community.
The two movie trailers, a modern-day heist and an action-adventure Western, will educate audiences about prevention and the possible consequences of being pulled over while driving under the influence — arrest, jail time and fines as high as $10,000.
"You might think you can get away with other things in the movies, but the one thing you won't get away with is drinking and driving and there are severe consequences," said Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center in the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU.
Three or four dozen BYU students worked on the project over a month.
"It was a lot of fun ... plus it was for a very good cause, so that made it very meaningful," said M'Lisa Hansen, a recent BYU graduate who worked on the hair and makeup.
Hansen is from Denton, Texas, and still remembers a tragic accident in high school when three of four 15-year-old boys involved in a DUI crash were killed. She said she hopes the movie trailers will make people think.
Blake Andersen, president of Megaplex Theaters, reiterated the need to address the "terrible plague" of drunk driving, which he called a "major threat to public safety." He said the campaign will be seen by more than 1 million moviegoers and hopes Utahns will designate a sober driver, give their keys to someone else, plan ahead or call a sober friend to help them get home safely.
"That's just way too many possibilities for tragic endings," Andersen said of the 3,963 DUI arrests last summer. "So let's just keep the drama on the movie screen, the accidents, the terrible tragedies on the screen and off our roadways."
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