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Juvenile judge explains '09 alcohol, DUI statute

By LYNNDA JOHNSON
Sun Advocate editor

Effective May 12, juveniles found guilty of driving under the influence of an intoxicant and certain alcohol offenses will face stiffer penalties

The 2009 Utah Legislature adopted statutory guidelines expanding motor vehicle operator sanctions in criminal convictions involving not only juveniles, but adults and minors younger than age 21.

"People who insist on consuming alcohol and driving under the influence will lose their licenses, no matter how young or old they are," pointed out 7th District Juvenile Court Judge Scott N. Johansen during an interview last Thursday.

"The law ups the ante for youth substance abusers and extends adult drivers license suspension periods," continued the juvenile court judge.

In addition to expanding Utah's current DUI drivers license suspension and revocation guidelines, Judge Johansen indicated that the 2009 statute mandates more severe penalties for juveniles committing several alcohol-related offenses.

Examples of related charges include unlawfully purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol, refusing to submit to a chemical DUI test and entering or attempting to gain access into a tavern or private club.

•The 2009 statutory provisions mandate Utah's juvenile courts to impose specific drivers license restrictions in the alcohol-related criminal convictions.

For example, the courts:

May suspend a minor's driver license for one year in connection with the first adjudicated offense.

Must suspend a minor's driver license for two years and may order the youth to participate in screening as well as an appropriate education series in connection with a second or subsequent adjudicated offense.

The motor vehicle operator sanctions apply to all minors found guilty of violating Utah's DUI and alcohol-related penalty guidelines by the courts, including juveniles who are at least 13 but younger than 18 years of age, explained Judge Johansen.

Along with the sentencing guidelines, the 2009 statute directs the state's drivers license division to implement the court-ordered license suspension/revocation restrictions upon receipt of the confirmation of DUI and alcohol-related criminal convictions.

"The new alcohol statute will have no impact on people who abide by the law," concluded Judge Johansen.




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