Compensatory Service in Lieu of Fine Amounts

Work it off or pay it off, the state of Utah now allows those convicted of an infraction or some misdemeanors to choose performing a compensatory service instead of paying a fine.

Monetary punishment

Photo by: 401(k) 2012

Anytime someone is found guilty of a crime, they have to pay the courts a fee as part of the punishment for their crimes. Depending on the severity of the crime, the fee can also be accompanied with jail or even prison time. The greater the charge, the heftier the monetary fine will be. While some residents can afford to dish out money for fines, others have a difficult or even impossible time affording the fine amount.

Another option for restitution

For those unable to bear the financial burden that results from their poor choices, the State of Utah now allows individuals to work off fine amounts with compensatory service instead. HB0248 put into effect last week has adjusted the ways in which someone can pay for their legal mistakes. This bill introduced compensatory service which is “service or unpaid work performed by a person, in lieu of the payment of a criminal fine”. Not all fines can be worked off however. The new compensatory service only applies “when a defendant is sentenced to pay a fine for an infraction, class C or class B misdemeanor”. Only then shall “the court consider allowing the defendant to complete compensatory service”. The option of compensatory service is not available for fines associated with felonies or class A misdemeanors.

Hourly “wage” for service

If someone chooses to work off their fine instead of paying for it, the new section 76-3-301.7 states “The court shall credit timely completed compensatory service reported . . . against the fine or bail amount at the rate of $10 per hour and shall allow the defendant a reasonable amount of time to complete the service.” For more information on potential fine or compensatory service amounts regarding pending criminal charges, speak with your legal counsel.

Corn Bait and Chumming on Utah Waters

Using corn when fishing in Utah has been against the law for several years, however the DWR has determined that corn bait is now allowed on select Utah waters while chumming is still not permitted.

Corn bait

Photo by: Doug Waldron

Corn is an inexpensive, yet effective bait choice for Utah fishermen yet was outlawed until the beginning of 2017 when the Department of Wildlife Resources made changes on the allowance of corn when fishing. It was previously believed that corn and hominy were harmful to fish and could result in gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and intestinal blockage, eventually leading to death. Through extensive research however, it has been determined that the only risk associated with using corn while fishing is an elevated chance of a fish taking the delicious corn bait.

Trial basis

Fishing Guidebook

Photo by: Dennis Sitarevich

In a type of trial run, the DWR is allowing corn bait to be used on select Utah waters known to have carp and kokanee salmon, both of which love corn. The 2017 Fishing Guidebook defines those corn friendly waters as: “Cutler Reservoir, Deer Creek Reservoir, Electric Lake, Fish Lake, Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell, Stateline Reservoir or Utah Lake”. They also note that “throughout the pilot study, Division biologist and law enforcement officers will be monitoring these areas closely to see if the use of corn should be expanded or discontinued.”

Chumming

Chumming

Photo by: James Mostert

Although using corn for bait is now allowed on a trial basis, chumming with corn is not. According to the current Fishing Guidebook, “Chumming means dislodging or depositing in the water any substance not attached to a hook, line or trap, which may attract fish.” Throwing a handful of corn or other bait in the water in hopes of attracting fish is a violation of Utah Code 23-20-3 which states “a person may not: ( . . . ) possess or use bait or other attractant to take protected wildlife”. Chumming could result in a class B misdemeanor charge as well as a violation and fine for littering in a waterway. Before heading out fishing this summer, residents are encouraged to read up on the 2017 Fishing Guidebook and contact the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources for any clarifications on current fishing laws.

New Utah’s BAC Limit –Necessary Change or Hidden Agenda

With Utah’s BAC limit lowered to a mere .05%, residents are questioning whether or not the change was necessary or if there was a hidden agenda; perhaps increased revenue for the state?

Designated driver needed for a dinner date

BAC Limit

Photo by: Mark Bonica

Beginning in December 2018, anyone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner in Utah may want to call a cab or bring along a designated driver. Utah’s new lowered BAC limit will make it almost impossible for any average person to have a single drink and still be legally safe to drive. Although most distressing vehicle accidents where alcohol is a factor involve drunk drivers with a limit well over the current BAC limit, Utah went ahead and set the bar extremely low with a BAC limit of .05%, the lowest in the nation.

Tourists beware

Speaking of the rest of the nation, those planning on vacationing in Utah need to read up on laws in Utah that differ from where they are visiting from. The big change that may catch tourists by surprise is the lowered BAC limit. The rest of the country shares a similar BAC limit of .08% which Utah had also agreed upon until recently. Now those who travel through Utah, occasionally having a drink but attempting to be good citizens by staying under the BAC limit may end up with drunk driving charges; charges that are not only being called outrageous, but downright expensive.

Money, money, money

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

While bars and restaurants throughout Utah are foreseeing the monetary repercussions the new BAC limit will have on their businesses, all Utah residents who enjoy an occasional drink may end up feeling the financial blow as well. Come December of next year, driving with a BAC of .05% or more will result in DUI charges. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Utah is a class B misdemeanor as long as no one was injured and there were no minor passengers in the car. Along with a small stint behind bars and a suspended driver’s license, driving under the influence results in a hefty fine. Although most judges will order an initial fine of $700, it usually ends up costing more than $1,300 after other fees and taxes; More than a thousand dollars for every person that is caught driving under the influence. Until recently, those drivers forking over $1,300 were the ones that pushed the “one drink with dinner” to maybe 2, 3 or more. With the new BAC limit in Utah, there is likely to be an influx of generally responsible drivers facing DUI charges and more money coming out of their pockets.

More DUI arrests equal increase revenue

Losing $1,300 can be devastating to those on a budget or for individuals and families who are living paycheck to paycheck. There are some who won’t be complaining however, and that is the state of Utah. When a hefty fine is paid, the money usually gets redistributed, with a portion going to a state treasury for programs such as: domestic violence activism; school districts; and law enforcement training. The remainder may be divvied up between the courts, cities, and other funds that are not explained entirely. In other words, the state of Utah and all its entities lose nothing with the lowered BAC limit and end up better off financially for it. The residents and business however are the ones losing.

Stay informed on BAC limit

Photo by: Nick Fisher

Photo by: Nick Fisher

It is important for Utah residents or those visiting Utah to stay informed on current laws so as not to be blindsided when they are quickly pulled over by eager to arrest officers. By limiting drinks, taking public transportation, or arranging a designated driver, it may help to keep any extra “alcohol money” from ending up in the greedy hands of the state. For more information on current and upcoming Utah laws including those regarding the new BAC limit, contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI charges.