The Utah Highway Patrol last year shifted from a year-long special focus on catching drunken drivers to enforcing speed limits and seat-belt use instead. The number of deaths related to driving under the influence increased from 25 to 39, up 56 percent.
So UHP Superintendent Daniel Fuhr told the Legislature on Wednesday that his agency will return to make DUI enforcement a special emphasis in 2013.
"It will be one of the primary emphases because those deaths are rising up again," he told the Transportation Interim Committee as it received the state's 10th annual report on driving under the influence.
The report shows that in 2010 when the UHP focused on DUI and conducted more DUI enforcement blitzes related deaths were much lower than other years. Police also made about 1,000 more DUI arrests than usual.
"We still do mini-blitzes. We'll do one on Halloween, and we do them on holidays," Fuhr said. "It's very easy to find impaired drivers between Weber and Utah counties. ... There's no shortage of them."
Other findings of the report include:
• 13,031 DUI arrests were made by police agencies statewide in fiscal 2012, which ended June 30. That was 785 fewer than the previous fiscal year.
• 972 arrests were made during specialized DUI overtime enforcement events, which involved 100 law enforcement agencies statewide.
• The average blood alcohol content for those arrested was 0.14, with the highest at 0.39 nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08.
• 72 percent of the arrests occurred along the Wasatch Front.
• 68 percent of arrests were for a first-time DUI offense, 21 percent were for a second, 7 percent were for a third and 4 percent were for a fourth or subsequent offense.
• 8 percent of those arrested were under the legal drinking age of 21.