If we keep doing this, people will start thinking, year after year and holiday after holiday, that the UHP will be out and that will be a deterrent to people. —UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson
SALT LAKE CITY — Thirty impaired drivers in Salt Lake County were arrested New Year's Eve and into New Year's Day as part of the Utah Highway Patrol's annual DUI blitz.
Statewide numbers are expected be released Wednesday. The Salt Lake County arrests by troopers occurred Monday night and Tuesday morning, UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson said.
Salt Lake police reported their efforts took 10 impaired drivers off of the roads of Salt Lake City.
The bulk of the blitz focused on the Wasatch Front, Johnson said, and New Year's Eve is just one of many holidays when troopers go out in added force to keep impaired drivers off of Utah's roads. The official blitz spanned six hours, between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
"New Year's is one of the larger holidays where more people tend to consume alcohol and, unfortunately, drive," the corporal said. "If we keep doing this, people will start thinking, year after year and holiday after holiday, that the UHP will be out and that will be a deterrent to people."
Through their "Good Wheels Program," the New Car Dealers of Utah donated $5,000 to UHP to aid in its efforts. The funding allowed the UHP to add an additional 20 DUI enforcement shifts.
Craig Bickmore, executive director of New Car Dealers of Utah, said they've tried to help with the blitzes for more than a decade.
"We believe in safety, and cars and safety really go together," he said. "So as people are driving, especially at holiday times, we want them to be really conscientious of the fact that they are responsible for how they drive and act in these vehicles."
He praised law enforcement efforts and said he is happy to help them in any way. He has accompanied officers in years past and was struck by how many people drive impaired even knowing police were on the streets.
"It surprises me people would be so irresponsible to drink and drive," Bickmore said. "You can call a taxi, call a friend, get a designated driver. There is no reason to drink and drive unless you choose to be irresponsible — and shame on you if you choose to do that. We just ask that people be responsible when they drive. Keep us all safe."
Still, he said he has seen the numbers decrease. The number of fatalities on Utah's roads in 2012 is looking to be as low as numbers in 1974, when 228 people were killed, and possibly 1959, when they were even lower at 205.
"To consider there are more miles being driven, it is quite an accomplishment," Johnson said. "Still, it's not zero, which is the goal."
Contributing: Jed Boal