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Utah's new DUI penalties under fire

The new law aimed at those who are suspected of driving under the influence in Utah is not scheduled to go into effect until the end of 2018, but it is still garnering intense debate, both in the legislature and throughout the state. A .08 blood alcohol content is widely accepted across the country as the standard for DUI. Recently, state lawmakers voted to reduce the BAC from .08 to .05, but some lawmakers are having second thoughts.

In fact, some in the state legislature are seeking to repeal the law before it is even enacted. However, others feel a fair compromise would be a modification of the proposed penalties for anyone convicted of driving with a .05 BAC, which for many may be equal to one glass of wine. The law currently calls for a first-time DUI conviction at the new low BAC to result in a 120-day suspension of the driver's license.

At least one lawmaker recommends that the penalty for such a conviction be equal to that of a speeding ticket. While bartenders and their customers may approve of the change in consequences, others who support the law in its original form protest the easing of sentences. At least one representative believes reducing the consequences may be interpreted as condoning drinking and driving, which can be dangerous even if the driver is not legally intoxicated.

If the new law remains as it is with its severe penalties for minimal consumption of alcohol, those arrested on DUI charges may face an uncertain future. The loss of one's driver's license can cause untold frustration and inhibit the completion of the most basic daily obligations. To attempt to avoid these consequences, drivers in Utah would do well to seek legal advice as early as possible after a drunk driving arrest.

Source: kutv.com, "Potential compromise floated for Utah's controversial DUI law", Brian Mullahy, Oct. 13, 2017

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