DUIs increase during holiday season, officials say

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Both local and national law enforcement agencies are cracking down on impaired driving as Utah authorities investigate multiple deadly suspected DUI crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration states 10,511 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2018, and that deadly crashes tend to spike around major holidays.

In December of 2018, NHTSA states 839 people died on U.S. roadways.

“We take DUIs very seriously,” said Lieutenant Jeff Conger with the West Valley City Police Department. “We normally do see more DUI arrests during the holidays because people are out drinking more, they are with their friends more, and they think they can drive and they are OK.”

But officials say it’s not OK.

Early Saturday morning, Salt Lake City police say 40-year-old John Hautau was killed while crossing the street with a friend near 300 South 500 East. The friend still in critical condition. Police identified the driver as 23-year-old Justin Williford.

At the time police said the two men were crossing the street when the light changed and Williford took off hitting them. He was arrested on felony DUI charges.

Then Monday morning, Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office charged 53-year-old Gary Ray Marshall with automobile homicide.

He’s accused of driving a black Acura that sent an SUV rolling last March. When the SUV came to rest, police say 76-year-old Richard Learned who died in the crash was hanging out the driverside window.

Charging documents show Marshall was driving over 68 mph in a speed zone of 40 mph, and his BAC was .129. At the time police said Marshall remained on the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

In 2018, Utah courts dealt with more than 1,100 DUI related cases.

Zero Fatalities tells us there were 19 Alcohol-Impaired Related Fatalities in 2018.

To help curb DUIs this holiday season, police want you to know one thing that will keep everyone in Utah safe.

“It is always a good idea if you’re going to make plans if you’re going to drink to take one of the services, [friends,] taxies, Uber’s, Lyfts, things like that,” said Lt. Conger.

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