SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A new bill submitted in the Utah Legislature seeks to combat the growing concern of aggressive drivers in Utah, including road rage incidents, with harsher punishments.
Over the past few years, Utah has seen a stark rise in road rage incidents. According to data from the Utah Department of Transportation, there have been 23 fatalities related to aggressive driving so far in 2023. In 2020, there were 25 and that number steadily rose to 28 in 2022.
A draft of the new bill, which went before the Transportation Interim Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 15, shows heightened punishments for those who endanger others with aggressive driving and road rage.
If passed, road rage incidents could carry harsher criminal punishments, the impounding of the offending car, and up to a year suspension of the offender’s driving license.
The draft of the bill clarifies the driver of the car does not have to be the offender in order for law enforcement and courts to enact penalties. So long as an officer has probable cause to believe anyone in the car engaged in road rage behavior, the officer can impound the car without a warrant.
Car owners would have to pay an “administrative impound fee” of $400 to get their car back, according to the draft. That fee would be used to help fund the Motor Vehicle Division, the Department of Public Safety, a neuro-rehabilitation fund, and the state’s general fund.
Road rages would also carry a stricter punishment within the court system by enhancing the charges filed, should the bill make it to law next year. For example, if a driver or passenger is cited for a speeding infraction as part of a road rage incident, that infraction would be enhanced to be a Class C Misdemeanor, which carries heavier fees and jail time.
The road rage amendments are still in the early stages of the legislative session. After several reviews and drafting in the committee, it stands to be presented in the 2024 General Session between January and March.
If the bill passes as it currently stands, the updated punishments would go into effect on July 1, 2024.