Some purchasers of new autos could find it more difficult to seek redress if they happen to pluck a real "lemon" from a dealer showroom

Under the state's existing "lemon law," if a newly purchased car is out of commission for 30 days or more it qualifies as a "lemon," and the state Division of Consumer Protection will take the dealer or manufacturer to court on the purchaser's behalf.But requests for assistance under Utah's "lemon law" have far outstripped the ability of Consumer Protection to respond in a timely manner.

Under the provisions of HB18, approved Monday by a House Business and Labor Committee, the state will no longer act as counsel on behalf of the lemon-owner. The owner will instead be left to his or her own devices to retain counsel, prove the case in court and recover legal fees from the automotive manufacturer.

"No question it makes it more of a crap shoot for the consumer," said Rep. Grant Protzman, D-North Ogden, a co-sponsor of the bill. "The threat of state involvement in a law suit has to this point kept the process clean. The automotive companies have all settled before the cases ever went to court."

But as it is now, the backlog of cases often means waits of up to a year to resolve the dispute. And most people find it extremely frustrating to wait that long, Protzman said.

The bill now goes before the entire House.