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Bill to ban driving while 'impaired to the slightest degree' dropped

Published February 18, 2014 9:08 am

HB303 • Referred for study during the year.
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Rep. Lee Perry, a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant, has temporarily abandoned an attempt to close what he says is a loophole in the state's drunken driving laws that allows some to escape charges.

He asked the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday to refer his HB303 for interim study during the year, which it voted to do, instead of trying to pass it now.

Perry, R-Perry, had said the bill would tighten current wording in law that bans driving "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs and "to a degree that renders a person incapable of operating a vehicle."

He said the current wording allows some attorneys to argue that if a person was pulled over for something besides erratic driving — such as a broken taillight — police don't really know for sure if the driver was intoxicated to a degree that made them "incapable of safely operating a vehicle."

He had proposed changing the wording to ban driving while "impaired to the slightest degree" by alcohol, drugs or any substance.

Lee made the move to study the proposal amid opposition and concerns by defense attorneys. It allows more time to seek compromise wording.