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More Utah drivers are using drugs before getting behind the wheel, according to the state's newly released DUI report.
The number of drug-related DUI crashes more than doubled in the year 2015, going from 320 crashes in 2014 to 701.
Sixty-seven people died as a result of these crashes, increasing the drug-related DUI fatality rate by 76 percent. The number is the highest its been in the past nine years, according to the 14th annual DUI Report, "representing nearly a quarter of all crash fatalities in Utah" in 2015.
The most common drugs that affected drivers involved in those crashes were THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana; amphetamine and methamphetamine; and opiate-related drugs, especially hydrocodone, said Substance Abuse Advisory Council Director Mary Lou Emerson in a presentation to the Utah Legislature on Wednesday.
An additional 37 people died in alcohol-related DUI crashes for a total of 104 fatalities in 2015. There were fewer alcohol-related DUI crashes and fatalities in 2015 than there were the year before, the report states. Forty-five people died in 2014.
The report detailed several stories of how drivers using drugs or alcohol took someone else's life, including an 8-year-old boy skateboarding on a residential road in Payson and a four-month-old baby being held in her mother's arms in the back seat of an SUV in Provo.
The overall number of DUI arrests decreased from 10,802 arrests in the 2015 fiscal year to 10,755 arrests in the 2016 fiscal year. Despite a population increase throughout the state, arrest rates have continually decreased each year since 2009 when there were 15,683 nearly a 38 percent decrease, according to the report.
Nearly three-quarters of people arrested for DUIs in the last year were male, and the largest age group arrested for DUIs consisted of people from age 25 to 36, accounting for 37 percent of arrests. The youngest people arrested were age 14, and more than 12 percent of all arrests were people under the legal drinking age, report said.
Seventy-one percent of the state's DUI arrests occurred along the Wasatch Front in Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber counties. Salt Lake County drivers accounted for 32 percent of all the arrests.