The legislature is back in session for the 2015 session. SB150 is seeking to tweet the DUI Laws in the State of Utah. The lawmakers are trying to do four things:
- The bill will prevent a second time offense from being plead down to an impaired driving.
- Get a screening and assessment for a Felony DUI and appropriate treatment.
- It extends the ignition interlock device requirement to 10 years.
- Makes it a crime to drive without an ignition interlock if ordered to do so.
The first requirement would make it difficult on prosecutors when the facts would warrant a plea deal to an impaired driving. I was defending an individual on a second time offense. The officer did not follow proper procedures. This forced the prosecution to make a plea offer to reduce the second time DUI to a much lesser offense. Think about this. If the prosecutor’s ability to plea bargain is taken away, then more people will have no choice but to go to trial. If they win at trial, then there is not class, no rehabilitation, and consequences. Whereas, a plea to a an impaired driving on a second offense would still require rehabilitative measures.
The second issue is a change in the law because the discretion was taken away on appropriate treatment. The law now requires intensive mandatory treatment that may not be appropriate and sometimes not affordable.
The third issue is pretty harsh and unnecessary. Right now, a person convicted of a DUI is Ignition interlock restricted for 18 months. This gives the first time offender 18 months to deal with this head ache, reform, and then not deal with it. This issue simply pads the pockets of the ignition interlock companies.
The last issue makes yet another crime on the books for driving a car without an ignition interlock.
This bill was put on hold for the moment because the feds are telling Utah that our DUI laws are not strict enough. NOT Strict enough? We have no employment license to drive like other states, we send people to prison after just three DUIs, our fines are steep, and the cost is unbearable for a person to survive when they lose their job and can’t drive. The most common question I get after a DUI sentencing is how do they expect me to pay all of this when they take away my ability to drive, take my job because I can’t drive, and pile on fines and costs? It becomes impossible to some to bear the financial burden and sets too many people up to fail.