There will be no mercy from the Utah Highway Patrol this holiday season for drivers found to be on the roads under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
UHP Sgt. Todd Royce said Thursday that as part of "National Impaired Driving Prevention Month," troopers will be out in force and ready to take offenders out from behind the wheel, slap on the handcuffs and escort them to jail.
"If you want go out and have a good time during the holiday season, go ahead and do so. However, make sure that you have arrangements to get home safely," Royce said.
Utah Department of Public Safety records show 39 impaired-driving-related traffic deaths in the state in 2011, and more than 12,000 DUI arrests last year. Nationally, according to Students Against Drunk Driving, about a fifth of car crashes are caused by people driving under the influence of drugs.
"Drug impairment in the state of Utah is a concern of ours; always has been. When you see a DUI or alcohol-impaired driver and a drug-impaired driver, the dangers are the same," Royce said.
The penalties are stiff. Under state law, even for a first-time DUI offender, conviction can mean suspension of a driver's license for up to 18 months, along with jail time, fines and vehicle impoundment.