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Potential compromise floated for Utah's controversial DUI law

Potential compromise floated for Utah's controversial DUI law (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Lawmakers may be a long way from toasting a deal, but a potential compromise is being floated for Utah’s controversial .05 DUI law.

The statute is not slated to take effect for more than a year; but since the time it was enacted last winter by the Utah Legislature, some have found .05 hard to swallow.

“Let’s not have somebody lose their license for drinking, you know, one glass of wine,” said Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Ogden, who wants to reduce penalties for people busted for driving under the influence with a .05 to .08 blood alcohol level.

In that range, the first offense, he said, should be akin to a “speeding ticket.”

Right now, a person convicted of DUI can have their license suspended for 120 days.

“That’s a good compromise,” said Nelson Korhel, who runs the O’Schucks bar and grill in downtown Salt Lake. He said people are “taken aback” by the by .05 law.

“Once I tell them it’s .05, they’re like, ‘Whoah…!,’” he said.

A spokesman for Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes said Hughes prefers repeal of the .05 law, but would support reducing penalties, that’s more likely to pass.

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, sponsored the .05 law, and took a dim view of the potential compromise.

“We don’t want to send the message that driving from .05 to .08 is okay,” he said.

An interim committee of lawmakers is looking at the .05 law, and a plan how to address it may emerge before the legislature’s next general session.

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