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Coasters, cutouts caution drinkers

A new effort to put the brakes on drunken driving is being launched in local clubs and bars.

As part of the Drunk Driving, Over the Limit and Under Arrest campaign, patrons who belly up to the bar at many of the city's watering holes will find constant reminders to drink responsibly and refrain from getting behind the wheel if they're impaired.

About a dozen bars have agreed to use four different sets of coasters, each with anti-drinking and driving messages printed on them. Three of the coasters give common excuses Utah Highway Patrol troopers hear all too often from drunks trying to justify their decision to drive: "I'll just drive home really slow," "I drive better drunk than most people do sober" and "I'll take the side streets." Each excuse coaster includes the banner, "Impaired Logic."

Another coaster has a picture of a handcuff. The idea is if the patron orders a second drink, they'll have a complete set of handcuffs — a reminder of what could happen if they choose to drive.

In addition to the coasters, napkins will be available at the clubs with a word-search puzzle. Each napkin challenges patrons to find such words as "arrested," "mug shot," "cell mate" and "Breathalyzer."

Nearly 52,000 coasters and 36,000 napkins have been distributed to 11 clubs in Salt Lake City and Midvale.

In the bathrooms, a sign resembling a mug-shot booking slate from a jail are being put on the mirrors. The goal is to remind people their own face could be on a mug shot if they choose to drink and drive.

And if all those efforts don't remind people to drink responsibility, there will be the imposing life-size cutout figures of UHP trooper Silver Brown, a member of the UHP's DUI enforcement squad, "watching" them at the door. The message printed on the cutouts is, "If seeing this officer made you nervous, maybe you're too drunk to drive."

"People say I'm a teddy bear," Brown said while standing next to his intimidating, arms-folded pose. "But when it comes to DUI enforcement, there's zero tolerance."

Brown hopes his cutouts are a reminder for people to at least get a designated driver or cab at the end of the night.

"Take care of yourself, and hopefully, it will take care of everyone else," he said.

Brown posed for photographers Tuesday next to his cutout at Port O' Call, 78 W. 400 South, one of the clubs participating in the program.

"I think anything that constantly reminds someone to do the right thing will help," said Port O' Call manager Deno Dakis of the new campaign. "I think it's a great idea."

Of the 287 highway fatalities in Utah in 2006, 56 were alcohol-related, according to the UHP.

As for becoming the new face of Utah's anti-DUI campaign, Brown said he hopes to get one of the cutout figures of himself to take home.

"I didn't expect this," he said while looking at himself. "This is awesome, though."