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301 New Laws Take Effect Today

301 New Laws Take Effect Today



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- From now on, some drivers won't have to be as tipsy as other drivers to be charged with drunken driving.

That measure and 300 other bills passed by the 2004 Legislature went into effect Monday, 60 days after the general session.

The new DUI law outlaws driving with a blood-alcohol of 0.05 or more if the motorist has had a previous drunken-driving conviction and has a minor in the car. For other drivers, the presumed-intoxicated level remains 0.08.

Other new laws prohibit unaccompanied bar patrons from ordering a pitcher of beer, and medical patients now have patients have the choice of arbitration, mediation or the courts in settling malpractice claims.

Two new anti-abortion laws also went into effect. One outlaws partial-birth abortion and another bans use of state monies for abortions exception in cases of rape, incest or the likelihood that a woman would suffer "permanent, irreparable and grave damage to a major bodily function" if she delivers.

It does not, however, make an exception for fetuses with fatal defects. University Hospital no longer will perform abortions in those cases and other hospitals are waiting for a state Health Department committee to issue regulations implementing the new law.

Abortion rights advocates have pledged to challenge both bills in court.

One of two bills in which the Legislature overrode Gov. Olene Walker's vetoes also went into effect.

It defines unfair business practices and allows businesses to seek legal remedy if they have been harmed by predatory business practices. The bill is geared toward protecting the intellectual property of Utah's high-tech businesses.

The other veto override was on a bill that requires local governments and school districts to hold special elections, such as bond authorizations, only on primary and general election dates. It takes effect in November.

Another law that went into effect Monday was intended to prevent the University of Utah from continuing its prohibition against guns on campus. The university is continuing the policy pending the outcome of litigation.

The Legislature also made it easier to obtain a concealed-weapons permit. Applicants no longer will have to provide letters of character reference and five-year histories of employment and residency.

From now on, convicted murderers no longer will be able to chose the firing squad for their executions and instead will die by lethal injection. The new law does not apply to the four death-row inmates who already have picked execution by firing squad.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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