If teenagers haven't got the message to just say no to drugs, then the Legislature will just say no to teenage driving privileges.
The House Wednesday voted 66-5 in favor of a bill that would suspend for six months the driving privileges of any teenager arrested on drug or alcohol charges, regardless of whether the infraction involved the use of an automobile."Drugs and alcohol are the most serious problem facing our young people," said Rep. Kim Burningham, R-Bountiful, the bill's sponsor.
However, some lawmakers said the penalties were too stiff and that it takes authority to discipline children away from parents and puts it in the hands of the government.
But the majority argued for a "zero-tolerance" law that would have a "chilling effect" on teenagers considering whether to partake of drugs or alcohol. And nothing grabs their attention like losing driving privileges, said House Majority Leader Craig Moody, R-Sandy.
Under the provisions of the bill, the first offense would result in the loss of driving privileges for six months; the second offense for a year.
In a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for the Deseret News and KSL-TV, 95 percent of Utahns questioned said teenagers definitely should or probably should have their driver's licenses suspended for violations involving drugs and alcohol.
Only 4 percent said teenagers should not have their driving privileges revoked.