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2/7/2008
Utah: Anonymous Tips Could Send You to Driver Testing
Utah Senate adopts measure allowing anonymous tips to send motorists to physical testing or to retake the driving examination.

Allen Christensen
The Utah state Senate on Friday adopted a bill that would allow the state's motor vehicle department to retest anyone identified is an anonymous tip as an "imminent threat to driving safety." State Senator Allen M Christensen (R-North Ogden) introduced the measure as a means of stopping older drivers from getting behind the wheel.

"We have a lot of bad drivers out on our highways," Christensen said. "Unfortunately, this bill isn't going to address those. It is only going to address those people who are incapable of driving safely... I thought of coming up with an example of an impaired driver that wasn't just a senior citizen... but this bill mostly impacts the senior drivers."

The legislation specifically authorizes the motor vehicle department to collect anonymous tips and decide which motorists, based solely on the anonymous charges, should be required to undergo extensive medical testing, a mental fitness test or to re-take the driver's examination. The bill's language allows these tests to take place if "physical, medical or emotional impairments" are alleged.

"It encourages citizen participation," Christensen said. "AARP thinks it's a great idea, too."

Senator Margaret Dayton (R-Orem) opposed the concept giving licensing bureaucrats the ability not only to decide who should be forced to undergo re-testing, but whether anyone should be charged with a class C misdemeanor for using the anonymous tip program to "harass" other people.

"I'm very uncomfortable with empowering the (motor vehicle) division with such nebulous and subjective definitions," Dayton said.

Christensen admitted his proposal was structured in this way to avoid constitutional challenge based upon the confrontation clause, but state Senator Scott K Jenkins (R-Plain City) was not convinced.

"We all have the right in our country to face our accusers," said. "That goes to the core of a free society. We shouldn't be afraid to stand up and be counted... This goes to all the sons and daughters who are afraid to go to their parents and say: Mom and dad, get off the road -- you're too old. "

The bill's opponents lost 20-9 and now the proposal heads to the state House where it would need to be adopted and signed by the governor before becoming law.

Article Excerpt:
SB 34
CONFIDENTIALITY OF REPORTS TO DRIVER LICENSE DIVISION
2008 GENERAL SESSION
STATE OF UTAH

Chief Sponsor: Allen M. Christensen
House Sponsor: Carl Wimmer

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:

Section 1. Section 53-3-305 is enacted to read:

53-3-305. Notification of impaired person to the division -- Confidentiality of notification -- Rulemaking -- Penalty.

(1) A person who is aware of a physical, mental, or emotional impairment of another person that appears to present an imminent threat to driving safety may notify the division of the impairment.

(2) If the division determines that the notification made under Subsection (1) was made in good faith, the division may require the person who is the subject of the notification to submit to:
(a) one or more medical reports under Subsection 53-3-304 (1);
(b) a physical and mental fitness test under Section 53-3-206 ;
(c) the knowledge test required by the division; or
(d) the skills test approved by the division.

(3) (a) A person making a notification under Subsection (1) may request that the notification be confidential.
(b) If requested by the person notifying the division, the notification provided under this section relating to a physical, mental, or emotional impairment is classified as a protected record under Title 63, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act, and the identity of the person notifying the division may not be disclosed by the division.
(c) The division may not accept an anonymous notification under this section.

(4) In accordance with Title 63, Chapter 46a, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act, the division shall make rules establishing procedures for making a protected notification under this section to ensure that the notification is made in good faith.

(5) A person who makes a notification with the intent to annoy, intimidate, or harass the person that is the subject of the notification is guilty of a class C misdemeanor.


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