Flying under the Influence in Utah

A pilot from Utah was recently arrested for flying under the influence (FUI?) after he attempted to fly a commercial passenger plane with blood alcohol content over the legal flying limit.

A tipsy pilot

Flying Under the Influence

Photo by: Cory W. Watts

38 year old Russel Duszak from Salt Lake City was arrested for flying under the influence after airport personnel detected a strong odor of alcohol from Duszak nearly 30 minutes prior to his flight from South Dakota to Utah. Authorities did not state the exact blood alcohol content of Duszak, only affirming that it was over the .04 limit for pilots.

Flying under the influence in Utah

Utah Code 72-10-50 states: “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of an aircraft within this state if the person:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating an aircraft; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”
Any person convicted of flying under the influence is guilty of a class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor if someone was injured during the drunken flight.

In control of the plane

Some may argue that Duszak cannot be arrested for flying under the influence as he was technically not flying the plane, seeing how passengers hadn’t even boarded yet. This may be true however when it comes to DUI’s, a driver does not need to be driving a vehicle intoxicated to get a DUI- they only need to be in control of the vehicle. 30 minutes prior to takeoff, there was a high likelihood that Duszak was in the cockpit, in control of the plane. Additionally, federal regulations prohibit any pilot from consuming alcohol eight hours before a flight. So either way he would be facing charges whether state, federal, or both.

Nothing Funny about Clowns Who Make Violent Threats toward Schools

Clowns can either be frightening or humorous but most everyone agrees there is nothing funny about them when violent threats toward schools are made. As disturbing as it may be, are any laws actually being broken?

Common fear

violent threats by clowns

Photo by: taymtaym

Being afraid of clowns is a very common fear, with numerous kids and adults sharing a mutual apprehension about the wigged entertainers with painted faces and tricks up their sleeves. The term for this phobia is Coulrophobia, meaning an abnormal fear of clowns. Several horror-based books and movies play on this phobia as well as many haunted houses which just so happen to be increasing in popularity this time of year. Although many people poke fun or crack jokes regarding this fear of clowns, it stops being comical for everyone when the public actually fears for their safety.

The clown epidemic

In August, there were reports of a clown who was trying to lure children into a wooded area near an apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina. Following this incident, other disturbing clown sightings started popping up around the nation, including here in Utah in cities from Ogden down to St. George. Most instances are nothing more than clowns in abnormal locations or settings who stare at people creepily, making bystanders nervous. Other instances however have taken it too far by making violent threats directed toward Utah schools.

Violent threats lead to school lock downs

So far none of the violent threats to schools have turned into any dangerous situations. Regardless however, schools and law enforcement have to follow certain protocols in the event of violent threats toward the kids at school. Part of this protocol involves putting the threatened schools on lock down. This causes undue stress for the teachers, students, and parents. It can also end in criminal charges for those clowns involved.

Clown crimes

Photo by: William Gray

Photo by: William Gray

While many clown acts can appear so corny a person might wish they were outlawed, there is nothing wrong or illegal with dressing like a circus performer. Seeing a random clown on the street may seem bizarre if it is not yet Halloween or the person isn’t headed to a child’s birthday party, but there isn’t anything illegal about the person simply dressing “differently”. As long as the person isn’t breaking any laws, they are free to dress in whatever clothes they desire with their face painted as colorful as they wish. If a clown decides to chase children or make violent threats towards a school, that is a different story. Those actions will result in criminal charges such as:

Disorderly conduct. A person dressed up as a clown is allowed to stand or walk along a street just as any other resident is but if they chase after kids they can be arrested for disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor. In this regards, disorderly conduct is defined by Utah Code 76-9-102 as “intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, ( . . . ) the person: engages in ( . . . ) threatening behavior.” Kids or adults with or without a clown phobia would most likely feel threatened if they were randomly chased by a scary clown.

Stalking. If a clown chooses to target a person by repeatedly either following them, showing up at their home or work, or otherwise as Utah Code 76-5-106.5 states: “intentionally or knowingly engag[ing] in a course of conduct directed a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: to fear for the person’s own safety ( . . . ) or to suffer other emotional duress”, they can be arrested for stalking, a class A misdemeanor.

Making violent threats. One of the most disturbing things being done by these creepy clowns is the numerous violent threats towards schools across the country. Many of these threats to schools are being made anonymously through social media which thanks to the internet is quickly spreads to students, teachers, and parents, causing widespread panic as well as using up valuable law enforcement resources. Utah Code 76-5-107 warns that if a person “commits a threat of violence [by] the person threaten[ing] to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, ( . . . ), it is a class B misdemeanor” whether or not the threat was expressed or implied. If that person or clown makes a threat of using a weapon of mass destruction, that can be seen as a terrorist threat.

Dangerous for all involved

Photo by: Steven Sanchez

Photo by: Steven Sanchez

While some may see these clown pranks as amusing, it is causing residents to fear for their safety while possibly increasing the danger for those dressed as clowns. The public has already expressed a desire to use force against any clown that makes them feel threatened. With a large majority of the Utah population having concealed carry permits, this may prove a danger for all clowns on Utah streets. The clown pranksters are encouraged for their own safety to refrain from further threatening behavior or plan on seeking legal counsel if caught.

Unlawful Use of a Notary Seal

It may seem nothing more than a stamp and a signature, but those responsible for notarizing documents must follow strict rules for using their notary seal as unlawful or improper use is punishable by law.

Notary public

Photo by: edkohler

Photo by: edkohler

A notary or notary public is a person who is licensed and commissioned to sign and seal official papers which are used in legal proceedings. A notary is used as an impartial witness who will ensure proper identification along with required signatures on legally binding documents before placing their notary seal of approval. Notarized documents are often used in many critical events such as:
• Buying or selling a home,
• Establishing power of attorney,
• Creating a will, and
• Adopting a child.
For these reasons, it is not surprising that there are lengthy laws regarding the use of a notary seal and criminal charges when these laws are broken.

Use of a notary seal

Notary Seal

Photo by: Dan Moyle

Title 46 Chapter 1 Sections 1 through 23 of the Utah Code discusses the Notaries Public Reform Act. Here is where all the laws pertaining to a notary public can be found including: required qualifications, prohibitions of use, liabilities of a notary public, and criminal charges for unlawful or improper use. Some of rules regarding the use of a notary seal include:

• 46-1-9.2 “A notary may not ( . . . ) perform any notarial act with intent to deceive or defraud.”
• 46-1-11(1) “A nonattorney notary may not provide advice or counsel to another person concerning legal documents or legal proceedings, including immigration matters.”
A violation of these and other laws regarding the use of a notary seal are punishable as class B misdemeanors. The same criminal charges apply to those who employ the notary or issue the seal to them who break the following laws:
• 46-1-18(3)(b) “It is a class B misdemeanor ( . . . )for: the employer of a notary to solicit the notary to perform a notarial act in violation of [The Notaries Public Reform Act]”
• 46-1-17 “A vendor may not provide a notarial seal, either inking or embossing, to a person claiming to be a notary, unless the person presents a photocopy of the person’s notarial commission, attached to a notarized declaration ( . . . ) “. A vendor who does so is guilty of a class B misdemeanor
A notary public or those employing a notary or issuing a notary seal who are facing any criminal charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with a reputable criminal defense attorney.