Living in Utah, with one of the lower third highway fatality rates ensures helps in its vastly diverse geographic regions. However 80% of the population of the state lives along the Wasatch Front, centering on the state capital of Salt Lake City. With four interstate highways bisecting it, much of the state is rural and rugged. Car accidents will generally be in the areas around Salt Lake City or in popular tourist destinations.
As the 13th largest and 10th least densely populated states with only 3 million inhabitants and the largest city less than 200,000 people, congestion is not usually an issue and therefore accidents are less frequent than in heavily populated areas. However, with a vast territory that is rough, rugged and varied, drivers need to be vigilant when out of the urban center of the state.
Although well known for its beauty, the state’s more rural areas can pose challenges if you were involved in an accident. Medical attention and indeed other drivers could be a distance from the accident.
If you are involved in an accident in Utah, you need to remember that the state is a no fault state first. You need to spend more than $3,000 in medical expenses or have a permanent disability or disfigurement before you can sue the at fault party in an accident. In a no fault system for minor injuries you would turn first to your own insurance company and make claims there first.
Modified Comparative Fault Rule
However, if you can step outside the state’s no fault rules and take a claim to court, the state does subscribe to the bar 50 modified comparative fault rule. This rule used in many states (or a 51 bar rule) means that if you are 49% or less at fault you can share in a claim award with other parties in the lawsuit. However your own award will be reduced by your same assigned percentage of fault. In this instance if you failed to fully stop at a stop sign, and then were hit by another driver that full ran the stop sign you would still share in the blame. If you were assigned 30% blame, an award of $10,000 would be reduced to only $7,000. However in the state of Utah, if you are 50% or more at fault any award you may have gotten automatically becomes zero.
High Points, Similar Results
Most states assign demerit points to different traffic violations, track these demerits for every driver and institute penalties if you accumulate too much. However, the points system in Utah, the points are simply set higher. Reckless driving is 80 points, speeding demerits can range from 35 to 75 points but if you accumulate 200 points in 2 years your driver’s license could be suspended and you will be called to a driver hearing to determine your fate.
Double Charges for DUI
In the state of Utah you can actually receive two charges if you are driving impaired. One, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and the other is Driving While over the Limit (DWI). The DUI offense charge is so that even if you are under the BAC limit of 0.08%, but impaired by another controlled substance or even prescription medications you can still be charged and convicted of DUI. Whereas if you are chemically tested to be over the 0.08% limit in the state the DWI charge will be satisfied.
The state also has administrative and criminal penalties for these charges, with Per Se administrative penalties. So when you are arrested the arresting officer will confiscate your license for DUI or DWI immediately and given a citation that expires in 29 days. This is the Per Se portion and is administrative. If you do not submit a Hearing Request Form in this time period, by the 30th day your license will be automatically suspended.
Like most other states penalties include jail time, license suspension, impounded vehicles, requirement for Ignition Interlock devices and substance abuse programs.