Utah lawmakers ban smoking in cars with kids, teen car calls

2013-03-15T00:29:00Z 2014-03-11T07:50:54Z Utah lawmakers ban smoking in cars with kids, teen car callsBilly Hesterman - Daily Herald Daily Herald
March 15, 2013 12:29 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY --  Republican lawmakers who pride themselves in small government made sure the government was small enough to fit into the public's cars this year as the Legislature approved three bills that will affect people while they cruise.

Lawmakers struggled with the bills as they dealt with public safety but also had a hint of nanny state. Gov. Gary Herbert said it is a balancing act between promoting public safety and holding off government intrusion. 

"It is a balancing act to give us the optimal outcome for quality of life and economic opportunity," Herbert said.

Herbert said as he considers the bills that he will use a rule of common sense to decide if they will receive his signature or veto.

• Hang it up

Teenagers might want to make sure no police are around the next time they attempt to talk on their cell phone while driving. After years of attempts to put such a ban in place the Legislature finally passed a proposal to block teens from using their phones while driving.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, muscled a bill through the Senate in the final week of the session that would allow law enforcement to fine teen drivers $25 for talking on their phone while driving.

"I don't want them on the roads putting myself or my family in danger," said Hillyard.

• No smoking

If there's a child younger than 16 in your car, lighting up is a no-no.

A proposal sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, aimed at protecting young lungs from second-hand smoke in a car passed both houses.

The bill would allow a police officer to charge a violator $45 for smoking with a child younger than 16 years present. During the first year of the law's existence law enforcement can only issue a warning for violating the law. A person can have the fee waived if they can prove they are taking a class to help them quit smoking.

• Speed it up

One bill doesn't necessarily encroach on one's rights but does deal with the public's safety. House Bill 83 will allow Utahns to increase their speed when traveling on rural highways. Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, sponsored legislation that allows the Utah Department of Transportation to look at increasing the speeds on highways that run to Idaho, Wendover and St. George.

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-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can follow him on Twitter at: @billyhesterman
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