Utah passed "cutting edge" drunken-driving legislation and rode the national wave of dissatisfaction against the tobacco industry during this year's session of the Utah Legislature.
Lawmakers did not raise the beer tax, nor did they approve the idea of homebrewing beer, but they did pass several bills that punish people caught driving while drunk.Any driver with a previous drunken driving conviction who is caught drinking while behind the wheel will now get a "provisional license" because lawmakers approved a bill, nicknamed the "not a drop" bill, by Rep. Nora Stephens, R- Sunset.
Under the restricted license, drivers can't have even a drop of alcohol in their blood to be considered driving illegally.
"This is really cutting edge to get that through," said George Van Komen, a Salt Lake physician and tireless advocate for more restrictive alcohol and drunken driving laws. "I think we did more this year with drunk driving and alcohol prevention than we have in many years."
The bill restricts the person's license for two years and increases penalties under the restricted license. Drivers who offend under the provisional license receive a longer sentence with the provisional license and can be charged with subsequent felonies.
A bill by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, says any driver who injures someone while drunk behind the wheel will now be charged with a felony.
Lawmakers also approved a bill to increase driver's license fees for those caught driving drunk. The extra money will go to upgrade computer and breathalyzer equipment carried by Utah Highway Patrol troopers.
Tobacco use in Utah also took a hit. Lawmakers passed a bill that requires tobacco products be sold face to face, another that establishes a minimum fine for children possessing tobacco and another that imposes fines ranging from $300 to $1,000 against a retailer for selling tobacco to some younger than 19 years old.