By Christopher Filanc-Gustafson
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that will tighten up sentencing guidelines in DUI convictions is on its way to the governor, who is expected to sign the bill.
“This bill changes the language, it changes the code,” said Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, who is sponsoring HB146. Under current law, a prior conviction within 10 years of a subsequent conviction leads to an increased punishment for offenders. However, due to the language of the law, some defense attorneys have been able to get their clients out of penalties.
The bill ensures that a driving under the influence (DUI) charge that occurs within 10 years of a prior conviction will meet the criteria for the elevated sentence.
There were slightly fewer than 9,000 DUI arrests that took place in Utah this past year, a number that has been static for several years. The goal is to make changes that will reduce the number of DUIs in the state. Eliason said he expects Gov. Gary Herbert to sign the bill.