News / Utah / 
Lawmakers Toughen Up Auto Homicide Law

Lawmakers Toughen Up Auto Homicide Law

Posted - Feb. 26, 2003 at 5:46 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Senate gave final legislative approval Wednesday to legislation making it easier to charge automobile homicide if a motorist "has in his body any measurable amount" of a controlled drug.

Senate Bill 7 toughens a standard that says drivers who cause another's death can be charged with the 3rd-degree felony if they are under the influence of an illegal drug.

The change would trigger a felony if motorists have even a trace amount of an illegal drug in their system, even if the effects of the drug have long subsided.

Senate Bill 7 makes an exception for drivers under the influence of drugs prescribed by doctors.

"It accomplishes exactly what I want to in a very clean and precise way," Sen. Carlene Walker, R-Salt Lake City, said.

Without debate, the Senate passed the bill 21-0 after working it out in a conference committee with the House.

Motorists also can be charged with automobile homicide if they are legally intoxicated when they cause a fatal crash, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Also liable are drivers using "any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle."

That standard would remain in law, but an easier one was added for prosecutors, who would have to prove only that a driver "has in his body any measurable amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance."

Legislative analysts said "a limited legal review of this legislation raises no obvious constitutional or statutory concerns."

Drivers who "involuntarily" take a drug couldn't be charged.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast