Legal or Illegal? Utah Bans Immigrants From Driving After Even a Drop of Alcohol

Utah's new toughest-in-the-nation drunken driving law contains a little-noticed provision that would impose a not-a-drop-of-alcohol-before-driving standard for two years on foreign immigrants who obtain driving licenses here.
May 22, 2017 AT 3:00 PM

By Lee Davidson

Utah's new toughest-in-the-nation drunken driving law contains a little-noticed provision that would impose a not-a-drop-of-alcohol-before-driving standard for two years on foreign immigrants who obtain driving licenses here.

"Prosecutors think it could become constitutionally problematic" because it would treat native and foreign drivers of the same age or experience differently, Will Carlson, a prosecutor for Salt Lake County speaking for prosecutors statewide, warned legislators on Wednesday.

He added that prosecutors worry "that may have unintended consequences leading into areas akin to racial or ethnic profiling in traffic enforcement."

It was listed as one of several unintended consequences of HB155, known best for making Utah the first state to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) for when a driver is presumed to be drunk from 0.08 to 0.05.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed that bill into law, but called for it to be tweaked before it takes effect on Dec. 30, 2018 — possibly in a special session just to focus on it.

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