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More disturbing DUI news

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The more statistics that come forth regarding drunken driving the more apparent it becomes that it is a serious problem in Utah.

And serious problems require serious commitments if they're to be eradicated or at least become manageable.

This page has repeatedly stated that all interested parties — the general public, police officers, attorneys, judges and local and state lawmakers — have to work together to get drunken driving in Utah under control.

Again, as pointed out in Sunday's Deseret News story on drunken driving, there is such a lack of cohesive data that it extremely difficult to draw a clear profile of a drunken driver.

That must not be allowed to continue as there are far too many drunken drivers in circulation.

A study of DUI offenses the past 10 years shows that about 5 percent of Utah drivers have been arrested for drunken driving. That is a very disturbing figure. The question naturally arises, how many additional drunken drivers are there who have not been arrested or convicted?

At a minimum, one out of every 20 cars on Utah's roadways is being driven by someone who has been arrested for drunken driving.

About one-quarter of those arrested for drunken driving are repeat offenders. And 1,400 Utah offenders had five DUI convictions or more.

How can people with five or more DUI convictions still operate a motor vehicle and kill or severely maim individuals the way several have in highly publicized cases?

A few months ago it was noted that computer systems were a mess and that the information regarding drunken drivers was outdated. That cannot be allowed to continue.

Surely in this era of technological wizardry an easily accessible database that tracks drunken-driving arrests can be made available to all law enforcement entities.

As reported previously, an alcohol ignition interlock device that won't allow the car to be started unless the driver's breath is alcohol free, is being vastly underutilized.

Despite a law mandating that judges order repeat offenders to install the equipment, it is not happening nearly enough. One report by the subcommittee of the Governor's Council on Driving Under the Influence found what basically amounts to a total breakdown regarding the interlock device.

According to that report, ignition-interlock equipment should be ordered for more than 165 offenders each month, or 3,960 over a two-year period. Based on available data, the actual number of devices installed is just 119, or about 3 percent of the 3,960 total.

Drunken driving is a problem that isn't going to go away on it own. Serious measures need to be taken to control it. Thus far, those measures are lacking.