Noteworthy Laws Take Effect Today in Utah

It is the officially the first of July today which means many of the new laws passed by the state legislature earlier this year take effect. While there are some laws passed that will affect very few individuals, there are a number that are noteworthy and all or many of us should be aware of. In fact, many states across the country have their newly enacted laws going into effect in July. This article addresses the significant statutes hitting the books today for Utah. For more information on any of the areas addressed below, contact a Utah Attorney at our office today.

Cell Phones and Minor’s Driving Habits

Many of us saw this one coming as the potential dangers for minors talking on their phone or texting while driving has been much discussed in the media and between state law makers for a long time now. Today it is official, a minor, that is anyone 16 or 17 years old who is talking on a cell phone while driving, may be hit with a $25.00 ticket for doing so. There is an exception for emergency situations and the ticket will not count against a minor’s overall points on their driving record. The penalties are relatively low compared to some states that enacted similar laws. A worry for some Utahans is this law will be made to soon apply to adults as well. While states such as California ban cell phone use across the board, Utah for the time only extended the law to minors.

Smoking with Kids in the Car

This new law makes it illegal for a driver to smoke in their car if kids younger than 16 are in the vehicle. This does not apply to drivers in open carry vehicles, convertibles and removable tops make it ok to smoke with children in the vehicle. This convertible exception may have little actual effect since most of the year in the majority of Utah you don’t want to be driving with the top down. The new law also is only a secondary measure, meaning police cannot pull someone over for this offense alone, the driver must have committed some other traffic offense in order to be pulled over and cited.

80 mph on Freeway Stretches

This does not apply freeway wide, but lawmakers expanded the 80 mph zones to include more of I-15 and other highways throughout the state mostly in outlying areas of less traffic. I-15 along the Wasatch front has still not been expanded to include the change so be careful. 80 mph zones were first tested in 2008 and have since been expanding each year to include more areas.

Protective Orders in Dating Relationships

You no longer have to be cohabiting, or married, nor even have children together, to file a protective order against an abuser. The protective order statutes in Utah are now expanded to include dating violence. Many attorneys fear this will open up the flood gates for all kinds of misuse with the process. The results of this law remain to be seen but for now, if you have been dating someone who is violent, or threatens you with harm, you have recourse in a whole new process not available before.

New Restrictions Regarding Wildfires

A new law in effect as of today gave County Sheriffs the authority to place restrictions on shooting and other activities that may cause wildfires in certain areas. In the past few years, several fires have broken out near Saratoga Springs and surrounding areas because of target shooting. This law aimed to allow counties the ability to restrict these types of activities when potential fire hazards are high.

For more information speak directly with a Criminal Defense Lawyer at Salcido Law Firm at 801-413-1753.

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