Utah New Year’s DUI Arrests Double Year-Over-Year
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The final numbers for DUI arrests over the New Year’s holiday have been released by Utah Highway Patrol, who said arrests doubled over last year’s figures.
According to UHP, troopers made 39 DUI arrests from New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. Last year, they had 20 arrests, and 34 the year before.
UHP officials said the increase doesn’t necessarily mean more people were drinking over the holiday this year, but it’s a statistic they’re still not happy with.
“There is a lot of data that goes into that,” said Corporal Andrew Battenfield. “I know we have more troopers on the road this year than we had last year, and we may have found more DUIs than last year.
Officers said the holiday arrests came around the same time two deadly crashes occurred involving drinking and driving.
One person was killed Wednesday afternoon in a DUI crash near 2700 South and 300 West in South Salt Lake.
Police said one of the drivers, Wilonja Lusungu, smelled of alcohol and had heavy bloodshot eyes.
The driver of the other car, 31-year-old Mavil Labra, was killed in the crash.
Another person was killed Monday and another passenger was critically injured in a Taylorsville crash. Police said they were also hit by a drunk driver.
Both drivers accused of driving drunk were booked into jail, and faced some very serious charges.
“Numbers are stats to some people, but when we have a facility to a DUI, that we take personal as a highway patrol because we know that those people are out there driving,” Cpl. Battenfield said.
Officials said DUI arrests don’t have to come from drinking alcohol. Drivers also risk an arrest or harm to other people on the road when under the influence of other drugs and prescriptions.
“We try to get them stopped before they cause any damage (to) life. We treat those like lives destroyed and families destroyed, because of those deaths and injuries,” he said.
Others often don’t know they’re sharing the road with impaired drivers. Officials said, those drivers are out there.
“The typical DUI drives many times before they’re actually caught,” said Cpl. Battenfield
Troopers try their best to find drunk drivers. Law enforcement can’t be everywhere, but they were out in force on New Year’s. Extra staff were on duty when they arrested those 39 people for DUI in one night.
“It’s sad to us because we don’t treat these like statistics,” said Cpl. Battenfield. “We treat these like lives destroyed.”
Perhaps no one knows what a destroyed life feels like the way Ashlee Loscher does.
“For me, it was my 4-year old son who didn’t make it home,” said Loscher.
Two months ago, 4-year old Holden Curtis was killed in Salt Lake City.
He was on his bicycle crossing the road with his mom when he was hit by a man police say was driving drunk and ran a red light.
“You don’t really realize how much you’re impacting other people,” said Loscher. “It’s not fair.”
Loscher was also hit on that day and is still recovering from her injuries.
She said she can recover from the physical injuries, but the loss of her son will last forever.
“My physical pain is getting better,” said Loscher. “But, still, there’s emotional drama that will never, ever, go away.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Loscher’s medical costs from the crash.
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