Our criminal justice system is based upon important constitutional principles that are aimed at protecting rights. The founders essentially understood that gossip, hunches and mere suspicion should not be the bases that, without more, should lead to a criminal conviction. Challenging the state’s case on constitutional principles involves more than looking for technicalities—the process involves vindicating constitutional rights that serve as the foundation of our country.
A Utah representative says that he believes too many people are looking for loopholes to get around drunk driving laws in the state, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The lawmaker, who is also a lieutenant with the highway patrol, introduced a measure last week that seeks to change Utah’s DUI statute. The law, as it stands, prohibits intoxicated driving if the state can prove that the impairment is sufficient to render “a person incapable of safely operating a vehicle,” according to the Tribune.
The lawmaker wants to change that language to prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to essentially any degree. His measure does not modify the 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration legal limit as a cognizable standard of impairment. But, he wants to change another provision of the statute to make it unlawful to drive a vehicle while “impaired to the slightest degree,” according to the Tribune.
Currently, all 50 states have adopted 0.08 percent BAC as the legal limit for driving a vehicle. The 0.08 percent standard may be handled differently from state to state–some making the legal limit a per se violation, with others making the limit a presumption of impairment.
Many states, like Utah, also have a separate provision in the individual state DUI statute that allows DUI prosecution upon proof that alleged impairment has impacted a driver’s ability to drive to a defined level. The various provisions are generally available to authorities as separate theories for the purposes of DUI prosecution. The new Utah proposed measure seeks to lower the burden of proof for the state to the slightest degree.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, “New twists offered to Utah’s DUI, seat belt laws,” Lee Davidson, Jan. 30, 2014