New Training for Utah Police as a result of Tougher DUI laws


Utah’s new law which is the strictest DUI limit in the country has caused some concern for their local law enforcement. The new procedure would change the way officers screen DUI suspects especially when someone’s blood alcohol level is over the new limit of 0.05 percent.

“The manual’s going to have to be rewritten,” said Salt Lake City  Detective Greg Wilking. “There’s going to have to be a retraining so that we all understand what those thresholds are and what we’re looking for.”

Sam Gill the Salt Lake County District Attorney said that currently drivers can be found guilty of drunk driving is they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. Furthermore, they can be convicted even if they have a blood level below 0.08 percent if they show signs of being incapacitated such as swerving and slurring their speech.

The new limit will take effect in December of 2018 and Gill believes DUI stops will become a hassle, and he said, “it’s probably going to create some challenges in the field.”

The 0.05 percent limit is supported by National Transportation Safety Board, the National Safety Council, and the Advocates for Highway and auto safety. They support the new law because they believe people become impaired and should not drive after one drink.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a person with a blood alcohol level 0.05 percent is impaired enough that it affects the operating of the vehicle, their response to emergencies, and lack of coordination.

Gill questions how an officer will find a reason to have a person perform a DUI test when they are acting completely normal, but admit to having drink and may or may not smell of alcohol. At that moment the driver could be violating the 0.05 percent but no established probable cause.

Gill also states the officer may be obligated to let them drive away because they are not in direct violation of the new law. The driver may admit to having a drink but if they are not showing signs of being intoxicated they are free to go. If DUI tests are given to everyone who admits to having a drink even though they do not seem under the influence there may be more cases of drunk driving because of blood alcohol levels at 0.06 or 0.07 percent.

Utah’s hospitality industry opposes the new law and state it will affect, tourism, restaurants, and those who drink responsibly.

One third of Utah DUI arrest are handled by the Utah’s Highway Patrol. They supported the new law and believe it wont make a difference in the way they handle drunk drivers because they base their arrest on signs of someone being impaired. There will be some training administered to the officers however they will need to have a reason for a person to get out of their car and perform a sobriety test.

According to Tom Ross, the president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, there will be changes officers will encounter. For example, they way they administer sobriety tests will change and what signs to look for to determine if the driver is over the new limit.

Their annual conference will be held next week and according to Ross the police chief’s association plans to discuss it then.

Although, the new law will save lives according to Utah Governor Gary Herbert the law is not ideal. He would like if the lawmakers would revise and review the current law to make sure Utah has time to prepare and implement. Gov. Herbert also would like lawmakers to strengthen punishment for repeat DUI and to boost laws that will prevent people from texting and driving.


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