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Weekend traffic stops: 14% arrested for DUI

Out of 147 traffic stops Utah Highway Patrol troopers made over the Halloween weekend, 21 drivers — or 14 percent — were arrested for DUI.

But perhaps more encouraging is that nearly 39 percent of people stopped in the county over the weekend were designated drivers.

This year's Halloween weekend, a holiday often connected with numerous parties, is one the Utah Highway Patrol used for a campaign targeting drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Troopers were paid overtime to work between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. in most cases.

Statewide, there were 45 DUI arrests made by 46 troopers, a statistic the UHP is proud of.

"Typically, 90 percent of shifts get DUIs," said trooper Jeff Nigbur, UHP spokesman. "This was obviously a lot higher."

Nigbur said numbers from across the state are still coming in to the patrol's DUI squad, run by Sgt. Larry Mower.

The DUI squad, which consists of four troopers and himself, Mower said, normally averages 16 DUI arrests each month.

That has been augmented in the past by the Utah Auto Dealers Association, which has donated $15,000 over the past three years to fund overtime shifts. That money has accounted for 305 arrests over the past three years, Mower said.

Besides DUI arrests over the weekend, five people were arrested for misdemeanor drug possession, and two were arrested for felony drug possession in Salt Lake County.

Nine people had warrants that added up to $60,000 bail.

Most troopers patrolled along the Wasatch Front, but 10 were sent to rural areas near Vernal and Moab, Mower said.

They look for telltale signs of impaired driving, like weaving or driving over curbs, or they look for equipment violations, like broken headlights.

Shifts often run from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. because "it's statistically the most opportune time to make DUI arrests," Mower said. But each section office is allowed to tailor DUI campaigns to hours around parties or hours of last call at local bars.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com