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Utah’s Strict DUI Law May Have Unintended Consequences

Utah’s Strict DUI Law May Have Unintended Consequences
May 22
15:32 2017

It won’t be until 2018 until Utah’s controversial DUI law takes effect, but that isn’t stopping law makers from thinking about making some changes.

The law, which will impose a .05 Blood Alcohol Content limit for drivers, may cause several unintended consequences. Some say the law will results in a huge increase in arrests, filling courts up with DUI cases, and affecting things like transportation and drivers licenses. Supporters of the legislation say the bill promotes a norm that drinking and driving are to be separate.

A provision in the law also imposes a not-a-drop standard on immigrants who have had a driver’s license for two years or less. Some attorneys worry that the provision could be constitutionally problematic as it treats native and foreign drivers of the same age and experience differently.

The law actually imposes the not-a-drop limit to all novice drivers, those who get a license for the first time, for two years prior to getting the license. However, the bill lumps in immigrants with novice drivers, discounting previous experience.

Some lawmakers are even calling for the total drinking ban on novice drivers to be lifted if the driver is older than 21.

Governor Gary Herbert may have already passed House Bill 155 but steps will be taken to tweak it before it takes effect. Herbert is expected to call a legislative special session in June to specifically address the law.

Among other opponents of the legislation is the hospitality and tourism industry. They feel that the new law will discourage tourists from coming into the state. The hospitality industry also has to deal with uncommonly high restrictions on alcohol and this law would just heap on another.

The Washington D.C. based American Beverage Institute has been a vocal opponent of the bill. The group took out a full-page newspaper ad in local and national publications saying Utah is inhospitable to responsible drinkers.

The Utah Restaurant Association, Utah Shooting Sports Council, and the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association also opposed the legislation.

Lawmakers will gather information from all sides of the issue before discussing the bill thoroughly in June. One thing is for sure, the law that will take effect in 2018 will look a lot different than the one that passed over Gov. Herbert’s desk earlier this month.

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