Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL - Patrons of the Bountiful liquor store may be startled to see 8-foot tall nutcrackers greeting them with the message, Officers are cracking down on drunk driving. Drive sober or get pulled over."
The nutcrackers are part of law enforcement's latest campaign to get people to stop and think before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. They'll be on display at the Bountiful store until Dec. 23. Then they'll be moved to other liquor stores.
"They're just a great visual aid," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Ted Tingey. "You can tell so many people, 'don't drink and drive,' but when you have visual objects, gifts or displays, that really gets people's attention."
About 50 officers from approximately 20 law enforcement agencies across the Wasatch Front attended the campaign's unveiling Wednesday in Bountiful. Also attending was 2nd District Court Judge Thomas Kay.
"It's the first time we've ever had a judge at one of these events," Tingey said.
Kay had a stern warning for anyone considering drinking and driving.
"You're going to pay $2,500 for your first DUI in fees and fines," he said. "If you hire a lawyer you may pay another $2,000."
Kay also noted other penalties someone facing DUI charges may encounter, including being required to enroll in an alcohol treatment program, having an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle at $70 per month, and having their car impounded.
Other consequences may be losing a job if the person can't drive to work, and loss of familial relationships.
Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross told those gathered that he believes most people who drink and drive feel they're "just buzzed," and they're OK to drive.
The campaign is just the latest in a number of campaigns focusing on drinking and driving, designed to get people's attention.
The UHP handed out bottles of barbeque sauce at a tailgating party at the University of Utah last fall and at Halloween - and sent Zombies out roaming the streets with a message about how deadly drinking and driving can be.
Those attention-grabbing campaigns seem to be working.
Of 217 traffic-related deaths in 2012, only 20 were related to drunk or impaired driving, Tingey said.
Bountiful Police Lt. Ed Biehler said such creative marketing has proven successful in the business world and he sees no reason it shouldn't within the law enforcement community.