Kansas Attorney talks about DUI law and driver’s license suspension
Utah and its cops are bracing for new 0.05 DUI law, which rolls out in five months
Utah’s tough new DUI law takes effect in just over five months, and the Utah Highway Patrol is gearing up for the change. Winward said all UHP officers will get four hours of training that will include a review of the state policy on portable Breathalyzer tests and how to look for impairment. Police agencies and prosecutors from around Utah also will get training to maintain consistency. Utah’s new law, passed in 2016, lowers the state’s blood alcohol content threshold for driving under the influence from 0.08 to 0.05. The law, which will be the strictest in the country, was timed to take effect on the day before New Year’s Eve, when many people celebrate with too much liquor.
Several factors affect BAC, including the number of drinks, age, gender, body weight and the amount of time that has passed since the first drink. One drink, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is equal to 1.5 ounces of liquor, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. The National Transportation Safety Board, which supports a 0.05 limit, has said numerous studies show impairment starts after one alcoholic drink, and people are noticeably impaired at 0.04 – the BAC limit for commercial truck drivers. Finally, Winward said the UHP also will use new software to track the incidence of 0.05 arrests to determine the success of the law. Lawmakers have heard that many Utah drivers already assume the new 0.05 limit is in effect and are choosing not to drink and drive.
DUI law change increases penalties
More of drunken drivers’ previous convictions will soon be used when sentencing them for repeat offenses. Senate Bill 90, approved by the Legislature last month and expected to be signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, extends lookback period on previous convictions from five to 10 years for misdemeanors, and says any previous felony DUI convictions could be considered when sentencing repeat offenders. The state’s current five-year lookback on DUI convictions is the minimum allowed in order for Alabama to receive federal road money. The bill also says that anyone who has a previous felony DUI conviction and receives another will be guilty of a Class C felony, punishable with a fine between $4,000 and $10,000 and one to 10 years in prison.
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson is supportive of the new law. Twenty-three states have 10-year lookbacks and a few have lifetime. About a dozen states have the same five-year period as Alabama, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2017. Before the academic year started last year, about 3,000 people gathered at local elementary, middle and high schools in Morgan and Lawrence counties. They walked around the buildings and prayed for the students, teachers and staff.
Ivey last week signed the joint resolution sponsored by Orr. The resolution designates the weekend after the first Friday of August as the days of prayer. Resolutions are not law, but express a formal opinion of the Legislature.
What You Can And Can’t Do Under Washington’s New E-DUI Law
Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving. This spring, the legislature expanded the distracted driving law to forbid handling a phone behind the wheel for any reason, even when stopped in traffic or at a red light. Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said you can also get a ticket for eating, sipping coffee, starting a video or grooming if a trooper sees you driving badly as a consequence. Using voice commands to make a phone call or get directions while the phone is in a cradle or connected to your car via Bluetooth is still allowed.
Using a CB radio is OK. Picking up the phone to call 911 in an emergency is a permissible exception. Batiste said troopers are likely to give more lectures than tickets during the initial three to six months under the toughened law. Previously, cell phone tickets were exempted from disclosure to your insurance company. A first ticket for driving under the influence of electronics-or E-DUI-will cost you at least $136.
A second violation within five years will cost at least $236. The stiffer consequences were welcomed by Tina Meyer of Arlington, who tearfully recounted how her 23-year-old son Cody was run down by a distracted driver in 2015 while he was working as a flagger in a construction zone near Issaquah.
Utah House committee rejects bill to delay.05% DUI law
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s toughest-in-the-nation DUI law will go into effect Dec. 30, barring an unlikely change of direction among state lawmakers. An attempt to delay dropping the legal blood-alcohol content for driving from.08 percent to.05 percent in Utah failed Wednesday. The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee rejected a bill on a 5-3 vote that would have put it off for one year. Kwan, who acknowledged she doesn’t drink, said there’s no indication that delaying the date would put motorists at risk. An education campaign, not more stringent laws, is a better way to curb drinking and driving, she said.
The Legislature passed the.05 standard in 2017 but delayed the effective date until this year. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who tried unsuccessfully to move up the date two weeks, said the fact that Utahns believe the law is already in place has cut down on drunken driving. Marshall Thompson, Utah Sentencing Commission director, spoke in favor of the delay. He said the commission favors a tiered approach to sentencing because someone driving at.05 is less culpable than a driver at.08.
Hutchings promptly walked out of the meeting and did not return. Representatives of Utah’s hospitality and restaurant industries contend the law hurts business and tourism as well as targets people who stop at a bar for a drink after work.