House Committee Opts Not to Address Unintended Consequences of .05 DUI Law

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 28, 2018

Contact:     
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

House Committee Opts Not to Address Unintended Consequences of .05 DUI Law

SALT LAKE CITY – This evening the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee voted against the amended H.B. 345, “Driving Under the Influence Amendments” by a vote of 3 to 5. The bill would have delayed implementation of Utah’s .05 DUI law until 2019. The current law is set to take effect this year beginning Dec. 30, 2018.  The bill would have also removed from the law problematic language relating to “novice drivers” that could be discriminatory towards immigrant drivers.

Rep. Karen Kwan says, “We have committed Utah to becoming the only .05 DUI state, and I don’t think we’re ready.  As written, this law creates too many unknowns for our state.  They say it will jam up our court systems with contested citations and doesn’t give enough latitude to judges in determining minimum penalties.  Public safety is our number one concern and we know delaying implementation will not impact public safety. Law enforcement agencies tell me this bill will not impact the good work they do to enforce public safety.”

The public and many other lawmakers have expressed multiple concerns about the controversial .05 DUI law since its passage last year. Utah’s tourism and restaurant industry worries the law will hurt Utah’s businesses. Advocacy groups say the current law would unfairly discriminate against immigrant drivers and those in poverty.

Rep. Kwan added, “We are not at consensus here, and we need more time to find ways to refine and improve this law. It would have been better for us to get this right, rather than quickly.  Who will be impacted by the unintended consequences? Our citizens, our constituents, and our neighbors. I’m not willing to let them be our test cases and let this unduly impact their lives. This will have dramatic impacts to our economy, our businesses, our judicial resources, and our culture.  This bill was about policy, and this is bad policy.”

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