SALT LAKE VALLEY, Utah (ABC4 News) – More than 90 people went to jail for DUI around the state of Utah over Valentine’s Day weekend including two who were traveling the wrong way on the freeway.
ABC4 discovered an unusually high number of arrests made for impaired driving while searching through court documents over this past weekend and reached out to law enforcement to find out why.
Unified Police Officer Zack Young, who works with the department’s DUI enforcement said he was surprised at hearing these numbers, stating it was higher than what they see during blitzes when they are specifically looking for impaired drivers.
Young agreed that it would make sense that Valentine’s Day being on Friday and President’s Day on the following Monday, could have played a factor in so many arrests. Young said during Valentine’s weekend they usually see a higher number of domestic incidents and intoxication arrests and now see the DUI numbers are exceptionally high.
The majority of the DUI arrests came from troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol. UHP Sgt. Nick Street, was shocked by the amount of DUI arrests they had made from Friday to Sunday.
“We had 71 arrests throughout the state,” said Street. “That is a really high number of DUIs for any weekend, but it makes me proud to see us get so many impaired drivers off the roads before anything bad happened.”
From digging into the files, ABC4 learned that most of the arrests came from troopers and officers detecting through experience that there might be something wrong with the driver.
Many of the drivers arrested were pulled over for speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, driving without their headlights on, and other minor infractions such as broken or nonworking tail lights or license plate violations.
Officials say thankfully, all the drivers were arrested before seriously injuring or killing, themselves or someone else. Some of the cases, however, could have ended far more tragically.
In one case, William De Jesus Cazun-Ramirez, 38, was arrested on Sunday after troopers received a report that someone was driving east in the westbound lanes of SR-201. Unified Police officers had located the car and had already stopped Cazun-Ramirez on Bangerter Hwy when troopers arrived.
Another driver was caught after passing an officer on State Street on Saturday at a high rate of speed. The officer then noticed several vehicles were speeding and racing each other down State Street as dispatch started receiving multiple calls reporting reckless drivers near 6100 South. Colton Mitchell, 24, the driver who passed the officer, was eventually pulled over and arrested on suspicion of DUI.
In another arrest, an officer noticed an SUV traveling over 80 mph on State Street near 8400 South. The driver, later identified as Abel Brown, 30, of Las Vegas, fled from the officer attempting to pull him over. Around the same time, a trooper found a crash in the area where Brown fled the scene. They were able to locate Brown’s car parked in a driveway around the corner. Brown was still in the driver’s seat when troopers arrived and did not realize he had crashed into another car. A chemical breath test showed a BAC of 0.169.
In another wrong-way driver incident, UHP troopers responded to a report that a sedan was traveling east in the westbound lanes at mile 104 on I-80 on Sunday just before 11 p.m. The trooper performed a pit maneuver to stop the vehicle from continuing the wrong way. Although the crash was minor, the trooper’s car was disabled, and both the trooper and the driver were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. That suspect’s name in this incident has not yet been released.
Sgt. Street credited the quick action of the motorists that called 911, the professionalism of the highway patrol dispatch and The state troopers who prevented that incident from ending much worse.
Valentine’s Day will be on Sunday in 2021, and both Sgt. Street and Officer Young said it might be time they add this particular holiday to their list of blitzes in the future.
*The totals in this report reflect arrests made by Utah Highway Patrol and Salt Lake County police agencies.
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