Marijuana possession in Utah can cause you to lose your driver’s license in another state

Many argue that smoking marijuana is bad for your lungs, among other things, and such arguments have caused many Utah legislators to feel that smoking marijuana should remain illegal in the Beehive State. In fact, CBS News recently reported that “smoking marijuana irritates the airways, triggers cough and phlegm production, and could be especially dangerous for asthmatics.” In the same news story, they also reported that research has also shown that “marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms.” (CBS News Article)

But sadly, in Utah, apparently only the negative side effects seem to influence the legislators. I recently had a client tell me he smoked marijuana for his depression because it has fewer adverse health consequences than legal prescriptions have, and costs less money, too. (I’ve heard the same arguments for heroine). Call us at 801-651-1512 for more information.

Whatever you think about marijuana, keep this in mind: if you get caught with marijuana in Utah, you could lose your driver’s license for six months on a first offense! And, not all prosecutors in Utah will give you a “plea in abeyance,” so that your license is saved. Keep in mind, even in states where smoking marijuana is legal, they are likely to honor Utah’s driver’s license suspension. This is because of what is known as the “The Driver License Compact.” That is an interstate agreement to share information about license suspensions and traffic violations, and forward them to the home state of the offender! Its so-called motto is “One Driver, One License, One Record.” In other words, if you are not from Utah, your home state may honor what Utah does, even if it would not have been a violation in your own state. (For example, U.C.A. 1953 § 53-3-601 to 53-3-607.)

Here is what some of the law says:


Reports of Conviction

  1. The licensing authority of a party state shall report each conviction of a person from another party state occurring within its jurisdiction to the licensing authority of the home state of the licensee.
  2. The report shall clearly:
    1. identify the person convicted;
    2. describe the violation specifying the section of the statute, code, or ordinance violated;
    3. identify the court in which action was taken;
    4. indicate whether a plea of guilty or not guilty was entered, or the conviction was a result of the forfeiture of bail, bond, or other security; and
    5. include any special findings made in connection with the conviction.


Effect of Conviction

  1. The licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation, or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Article III of this compact, as it would if the conduct had occurred in the home state, in the case of convictions for:
    1. manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
    2. driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree that renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle;
    3. any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used; and
    4. failure to stop and render aid in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another.
  2. As to other convictions, reported pursuant to Article III, the licensing authority in the home state shall give the same effect to the conduct as provided by laws of the home state.
  3. If the laws of a party state do not provide for offenses or violations denominated or described in precisely the words employed in Subsection (1) of this article, the party state shall construe the denominations and descriptions appearing in Subsection (1) as applying to and identifying those offenses or violations of a substantially similar nature and the laws of the party state shall contain provisions as necessary to ensure that full force and effect is given in this article.
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