Advocates work to prevent drunk driving in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Work is never really easy for Melissa Larkin, a funeral director at Larkin Mortuary who is used to the difficult goodbyes.

“My brother was hit by a drunk driver January 15, 2000, and the two boys who were with him, Casey and Christopher, were killed,” Larkin said.

Now, as the chair of Moms Against Drunk Driving in Salt Lake, she’s helping make arrangements for yet another victim.

"It's heartbreaking,” Larkin said. “It's heartbreaking because it's a flashback of everything that my family has gone through."

On Thursday, 43-year-old Susan Madsen was killed in a 7-car crash in Draper, which police said was all caused by a driver who was under the influence.

Friday night, a vigil was held in honor of a Salt Lake City woman killed in a crash just two days after Madsen died.

According to police, Norma “Alishia” Black, 31, was killed when the car she was riding in crashed into another vehicle in South Salt Lake. Authorities believe the driver Black was with was under the influence.

“It's one more family that it shouldn't be happening to,” Larkin said. “This is 100 percent preventable. This crime doesn't have to happen.”

In 2013, the Utah Highway Patrol arrested 1,407 people for driving under the influence. Data for 2014 shows, thus far, they’ve arrested 1,151.

“It's really easy to just make that decision of not to drive. If you've been drinking, whether you're over 21 or under 21, the penalties for drinking and driving are huge,” said Adan Carrillo of the Utah Department of Transportation.

The agency’s Zero Fatalities program shows a 60 percent decrease in DUI fatalities, but Carrillo believes there is still work to be done.

“You know you’re drinking,” he said. “So, just make that decision early on, and choose not to do that because the consequences are catastrophic.”

8 comments

    • Bob

      DUI check points are absolutely legal Kasey. Driving is a privilege and not a right, and it comes with restrictions. One of those is you can’t drive drunk. Don’t like it move to Iran. They execute drunk drivers there.

  • Steve

    DUI check points are legal and have been vetted multiple times by the Supreme Court. You complain about them being illegal until someone in your family is killed by an impaired driver, THEN authorities never do enough.

  • Ivan

    DUI check points should be illegal. They are not very effective. If the police officers at those check points were out patrolling the streets they could catch far more drunk drivers.

    • Bob

      If DUI check points weren’t effective Ivan the police wouldn’t continue to conduct them. Drunk drivers may wish they were illegal, but the rest of us wish they’d conduct them more often.

    • Bob

      Drunk driving laws exist in every state of our nation, and have absolutely nothing to do with morality. Drunk drivers kill people as family members and friends of Norma Alishia Black will tell you. It was her misfortune to be in the passenger seat of a Chevy Malibu went the driver chose to drive into oncoming traffic.

  • Bob

    Fools like to mock Utah’s drunk driving laws but when it is one of their loved ones who is injured or killed they suddenly start blubbering about compassion, and want to bring Jesus into the converstation.

    I’m sure that while (_|_) doesn’t like the LDS Church’s stand on morality he must surely agree that drunk drivers kill people.

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