Utah Highway Laws

Utah has highway laws in place to help prevent accidents and keep the flow of traffic moving freely. Violation of these highway laws not only proves a driver to be non-courteous, but can also result in fines or criminal charges.

Move-over laws

Photo by: versageek

Photo by: versageek

More than 200 law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by passing motorists during traffic stops since 2000. On Sunday evening, a Utah highway patrol officer had a close call as she was nearly hit by a passing car while on a routine traffic stop along I-15. Officer Bambi Baie was pulled over behind a stopped vehicle when she realized an oncoming car was drifting toward her. Luckily for the officer, the approaching distracted driver saw the officer in time and was able to avoid a collision with the patrol car. Unfortunately, the 55 year old Cedar City woman who had been looking at her cell phone, over-corrected when she saw the UHP vehicle and rolled her car several times. She was taken to the hospital in serious condition and will likely face charges for violation of highway laws including operating a hand held device while driving and failure to move over for motorist on the side of the road.

Speeding in Work Zones

UDOT workers put themselves in danger every time they put on that orange safety vest, as their workplace is surrounded on a daily basis by fast moving vehicles. To protect these workers and drivers, Utah has highway laws that not only prohibit speeding, but increase fines for those caught driving too fast in work zones. Speeding in a work zone will result in tickets that are double their normal rate.

Left lane drivers

“Stay right except to pass” is a sign seen often along Utah highways and is not merely a suggestion. Utah Code 41-6a-701 states: “On all roadways of sufficient width, a person operating a vehicle shall operate the vehicle on the right half of the roadway.” The far left lane is reserved for those moving faster than the flow of traffic, including law and emergency vehicles. The exceptions to this law are for those passing other slower moving vehicles, bicycles, mopeds, or if there is an obstruction in the road. Once the passing car has overtaken the other vehicles, they are to move over to the right lane immediately. By keeping to the right, traffic can move freely which will greatly reduce the amount of accidents on the highways.

Express lanes

Photo by: Garrett

Photo by: Garrett

Express lanes are available for motorist to bypass heavy traffic that can result from congestion surrounding on ramps and off ramps. In order to use the express lanes lawfully, drivers must be riding with at least one other human occupant in the car), driving a motorcycle, or have a paid express pass. Additionally, drivers are never to cross a double white line. According to UDOT, “violators of the Express Lanes can be issued a citation with a fine of up to $175.”


Traffic entering the highway from on ramps must always yield to through traffic. The same rule applies when merging is required due to a lane ending. The merging car is responsible for carrying out this maneuver safely, just as if they were changing lanes. While it is not legally required to let merging traffic enter, it is the decent thing to do as long as it can be done safely.

Be safe and courteous

Photo by: Ken Lund

Photo by: Ken Lund

By following these and other Utah highway laws, motorist can travel throughout the state of Utah safely. While most violations of highway laws end in citations and fines, because of the high rate of speed they can quickly turn into negligent driving charges or even vehicular manslaughter. Obeying highway laws may also keep drivers from becoming victims of road rage. For more information on charges resulting in failure to follow Utah highway laws, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Voyeurism Charges for “Checking Someone Out”

“Checking someone out” discretely and without their consent can result in voyeurism charges.

Common cases of voyeurism

Photo by: Gareth Williams

Photo by: Gareth Williams

When the word voyeurism starts getting thrown around, it is typically due to someone videotaping or snapping a picture of another person when they are indecently exposed. Utah law does consider this voyeurism, however the charges are the same whether the person is dressed or not. Sneaking a picture of ANY part of someone’s body they would consider private can end in a class A misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony if the person being looked over is under 14 years old. Dissemination of the images is a violation punishable as a 3rd degree felony or 2nd degree if the images are of a younger child.

Careful where you stare

Taking a picture or video isn’t necessary to be guilty of voyeurism. Merely looking (staring, ogling, gawking, rubbernecking) at a person’s private areas with or without clothing covering them is voyeurism. The lack of a picture simply brings it down a notch to a class B misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor for a child under 14 years.

Ask permission first?

If someone crosses paths with another individual that they deem attractive, it could be incredibly uncomfortable to request their permission to look them over. That plea in itself would be entirely creepy to that other person. The only other option to avoid being guilty of voyeurism is to be a gentlemen (or a lady) and only view appropriate areas on them, such as their eyes, smile…or feet.

Excuse me, my eyes are up here

There are some notable problems with voyeurism laws:

• Who can be exactly sure WHERE another person is looking? This can apply to shorter people whose smile sits in close proximity to their chest area or to someone with an extremely distracting belt buckle.

Photo by: Helga Weber

Photo by: Helga Weber

• What about clothing that begs to be gawked over? Low cut shirts that reveal cleavage, short skirts or shorts, and tight clothing all trap individuals within close proximity to steal a glance, whether they want to or not. Should revealing clothing be considered consent?

For more information on voyeurism charges or laws regarding how to legally look at other people, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Violation of a Restraining Order

When a judge issues a restraining order, that is a court order for a person to stay away from a specific individual and violation of a restraining order may land the restricted person in jail.

Reasons for issuing a restraining order

Photo by: Rob!

Photo by: Rob!

A restraining order, otherwise known as a protective order, is typically placed against a person who is deemed a threat to another individual. Issuing of restraining orders can stem from charges such as:

• Domestic violence
• Stalking
• Sexual assault
• Physical assault
• Harassment
• Threats
• Human trafficking
• Issues with former employees

How a restraining order works

Restraining order hearings sometimes take a while, so if an individual feels that they are in immediate danger from another person, they can have a judge issue a temporary restraining order. The temporary restraining order must be given, or served, to the restricted person in order for it to be valid. This is typically done by a member of the local police department or court system. This temporary restraining order is usually good for a couple weeks to give the individual time to get a permanent restraining order. Depending on the case; once served, the restricted person may be constrained from:

• Calling, texting, or otherwise trying to communicate with the protected individual.
• Going to the individuals home or place of employment
• Having contact with minor children
• Being within a certain amount of feet from the protected individual. This can mean that the restricted person must leave a public place such as a store if they see that the protected individual is there.

Violation of a restraining order

If the restrained person tries to contact the individual, it is considered a violation of a restraining order. Utah Code 77-36-2.4 states “A law enforcement officer shall, without a warrant, arrest an alleged perpetrator whenever there is probable cause to believe that the alleged perpetrator has violated any of the provisions of an ex parte protective order or protective order [restraining order]”. Violation of a restraining order is a class A misdemeanor. For more information on charges stemming from restraining orders, call a criminal defense attorney.