Drug DUIs rise in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA (ABC4 Utah) - Two small southern Utah cities are seeing more DUI arrests than many of their surrounding areas. But these aren't alcohol related, they're drug DUIs. 

"As small as we are, to be netting those arrests is phenomenal," said Sgt. Nick Hallman with the Santa Clara/Ivins Police Department.

Ivins- popluation 8,000 and its neighboring Santa Clara with 7,000 residents is known for its red rock, Mormon history, and now DUI arrests. They're averaging about one per week. 

"This year our department has made 48 DUI arrests. That's a small per capita. Those are huge arrest numbers," said Hallman.

The Santa Clara/Ivins Police Department has nine patrol officers, but four of those have completed advanced training and are drug recognition experts, meaning they're specifically trained to look for impaired drivers. 

"Our number one drug impairment is marijuana impairment. I think that's obviously starting to go up. Some of our surrounding states, Mesquite recently got a dispensary. We're getting a pretty good number of  prescription drug arrests and stuff with it as well," said Hallman. 

Hallman says while alcohol-related DUIs have actually gone down in both Ivins and Santa Clara, drug DUIs are going up. 

"Through all social classes and all races I think we have those problems out there," said Hallman. 

Hallman says the department's focus on stopping impaired driving is about one thing: Stopping a tragedy before it happens. 

"Taking a DUI driver off the road, for us, Saves a victim. Yeah, when we're making these arrests it's not an end game or a stat. What we're trying to do is save a victim we've never known about," said Hallman.

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