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December 31, 2009

New Utah Laws Effective January 1, 2010

statecapitol.jpegSeveral Utah laws go into effect the first day of 2010, including:

This bill amends the Uniform Driver License Act. It repeals the Drivers' License Division's Renewal-by-Mail program and requires any driver obtaining or renewing a driver's license to do so in person at a DMV office. The repeal of this rule was also recently announced in the Utah State Bulletin.

This bill modifies the Property Tax Act by changing the procedures taxing entities must follow when advertising public hearings in newspapers and with county auditors.

This bill amends the Motor Vehicle Act by modifying the definition of a custom vehicle and declaring it exempt from vehicle emissions inspections. This bill also defines a street rod as a vintage vehicle.

Want to learn more about these new laws? From each bill's home page, you can link to floor debate audio recordings or read committee minutes and reports.

Want to see what other laws become effective on January 1st? Go to the Utah State Legislature's passed bills page, select 2009 General Session (or either of the special sessions, if you're interested in those) from the drop down box, and click on the Effective Date heading to sort the list by that criteria.

December 30, 2009

Utah's DUI Laws

dui_info.gif During the last legislative session, the Utah legislature passed a bill that increases penalties for driving under the influence. On holidays like the 4th of July and New Year's Eve, the Utah Highway Patrol often increases its presence on Utah's roads and highways to find impaired drivers and prevent them from continuing to drive while intoxicated. In fact, Utah Highway Patrol states on its website that "removing impaired drivers from Utah’s highways is the Utah Highway Patrol’s number one priority. Every effort will be made to educate the public regarding the hazards associated with driving while impaired. Action will be taken to increase the likelihood of apprehension."

While you should always be aware of these laws, here's a list of some of Utah's DUI laws to keep in mind over the New Year:

  1. If you are 21 or older and are arrested for your first DUI, your license will be suspended for 120 days.
  2. If you are under 21 at the time of your DUI arrest, your license will be suspended for 120 days or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.
  3. If you are 21 or older and are arrested for a second DUI, your license will be revoked for 2 years.
  4. If you are under 21 and are arrested for a second DUI, your license will be revoked for 2 years or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.

More information about DUI offenses are found in the state Traffic Code. The Utah Department of Public Safety has more information about DUI laws in Utah. If you have been issued a DUI citation or any other traffic ticket, Highway Patrol has information about citations.

December 29, 2009

Bills on the President's Desk

signing2.jpgAfter a bill passes both the U.S. House and Senate, where does it go? To the U.S. President, who can sign and approve the bill as law or veto it.

The Law Library of Congress has recently made it easier to find out which bills have been delivered to the President by adding a Bills Presented to the President RSS Feed to its News & Events page.

Subscribe to the RSS feed to stay up to date on bills that are ready for the President's signature without the hassle of searching for individual bills every day or week. The RSS feed updates automatically.

If you're not comfortable with RSS feeds, you can receive announcements by email.

December 28, 2009

Wireless Password: scene

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of December 28, 2009 is scene.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

December 22, 2009

Finding an Attorney in Utah

IMG_2832.jpgRather than searching the phone book for an attorney, you can use the Utah State Bar's Find a Lawyer Directory to locate an attorney based on specialty, location, languages spoken and the number of years in practice. If you've been referred to an attorney, you can find their contact information by entering their name in the search box on the Utah State Bar Attorney & Associate Member Directory Service page.

Some attorneys in Utah practice "limited representation" - this means that the attorney and client agree that the attorney will provide specific services for a predetermined fee. The agreement might state that the attorney will coach the client for an upcoming court hearing or the attorney will draft an initial petition. Once that specific task has been completed, the attorney no longer represents the client unless they enter into a new agreement for additional services. This type of agreement is often cheaper than hiring an attorney for the entire length of your case. To search for an attorney who practices "limited representation," choose the Advanced Search Form and then check the boxes by "Contracts - Limited Representation," "Divorce - Limited Representation," "Estate Planning - Limited Representation" and/or "Family - Limited Representation." Other categories may be added at a later date.

Not interested in hiring a lawyer? Check out the Finding Legal Help page for information about other ways to settle your dispute or find a free legal clinic.

While court employees aren't allowed to refer you to a specific lawyer, if you need assistance in using any of these referral sources, contact the law library. We're happy to help.

December 21, 2009

December Holiday Hours

IMG_2936.JPGThe law library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Christmas and New Year's Day.

For quick reference, here are the law library's hours for the last two weeks of December:
Monday, Dec. 21: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 22: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 23: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 24: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 25: CLOSED

Monday, Dec. 28: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 29: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 30: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 31: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 1: CLOSED

Wireless Password: reels

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of December 21, 2009 is reels.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

December 15, 2009

Just Call Me Santa

IMG_3049.jpgThe court hears many name change petitions for both adults and minors. Most name change requests are for reasons you might expect: a child wants to take his stepfather's last name; a woman wants to restore her maiden name years after a divorce; or a man is unhappy with the first name his parents gave him and wants a new name of his choosing.

However, some name change petitions are quite unusual. Take the case of David Lynn Porter. Porter asked the Third District Court in Salt Lake City to change his name to Santa Claus and the court denied his request. The appellant's brief stated that "...to Porter's dismay Judge Timothy Hanson of the Third District Court denied this jolly old elf's request." He appealed to the Utah Supreme Court and asked that the Court reverse the Third District Court's holding and change his name to Santa Claus, and in the alternative, to Kris Kringle. The Court did in fact reverse and remand the case back to the lower court, where Porter's name was legally changed to Santa Claus. Want to read the appellant's brief? Download it here.

In the Court's opinion, Justice Wilkins, writing for the majority, stated: "Porter's proposed name may be thought by some to be unwise, and it may very well be more difficult for him to conduct his business and his normal everyday affairs as a result. However, Porter has the right to select the name by which he is known, within very broad limits. Significantly, Porter already tells others that he is Santa Claus. Allowing him to legally change his name to reflect his practice of doing so is more likely to avoid greater confusion than to create it by making Porter legally responsible for his actions in the name Santa Claus." Read the entire Supreme Court opinion here.

If you're interested in other name change cases, check out this Slate article by law professor Eugene Volokh: 1069, Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii And Other Names So Weird That Judges Forbade Them.

December 14, 2009

January Classes

columnsOur January class list is here!

Small Claims Basics
Thursday, 1/7, 4:30-6:00 p.m.
Topics include the small claims process, Rules of Small Claims Procedure, small claims forms, and an overview of appealing a small claims case.

Collecting a Judgment Basics
Thursday, 1/14, 4:30-6:00 p.m.
Topics include identifying a debtor's property, writs of garnishment and execution, exemptions and satisfaction of judgment in civil and criminal cases.

Guardianship of an Adult Basics
Thursday, 1/21, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Topics include who can be a guardian, why you might want a guardianship, the difference between a guardianship and conservatorship, the rights and responsibilities of a guardian, how to request a guardianship appointment, and how to terminate a guardianship appointment

Landlord-Tenant Basics
Thursday, 1/28, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Basic rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants, as well as provide a description of the eviction process.

All classes are held in the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

To register for these free classes call 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

Wireless Password: queen

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of December 14, 2009 is queen.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

December 11, 2009

Call, Email, Text & Chat!

meebo.bmp Contacting the Utah State Law Library just got easier! In an effort to expand services to users both in and outside the Salt Lake City area, we've added a number of ways to contact us for legal reference questions, class sign ups and document delivery requests. Besides calling and emailing the law library, you can now also contact us via chat and text.

Chatting with us is as simple as visiting our Contact Us page and entering your question in the Ask Us box. Law library staff will answer your chat questions 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Or, if you have AOL, Google Talk, MSN or Yahoo IM service, make note of our user name and send us a message through your instant messenger account.

Rather text than chat? Text us at 801-432-0TXT (801-432-0898) and we'll respond via text during business hours: Monday though Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Of course, we still answer phone calls and emails. Call us at 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

Finally -- you can also find us on Facebook. There, you'll find class and event reminders, an RSS feed of this blog, and law library photos. You can also chat with us from our Facebook page. Just click on the "Chat with Us" tab or find the chat box on our main page. We also welcome comments and suggestions on our Wall.

December 10, 2009

Court of Appeals Briefs

The library has received additional Court of Appeals briefs. There are 9 briefs from the 1990’s with docket numbers ranging from 920875CA to 970628CA.
In addition the library has received 16 Court of Appeals briefs ranging from 20060263 to 20090188 (list not inclusive.)
If you're looking for a specific brief, contact the library by phone (801-238-7990) or email to make sure we have it. If you can't come in to make copies yourself, we offer a document delivery service for 25¢ per page and will scan the briefs and email them to you.

Traffic & Driving Laws in Utah

traffic.jpgThe Utah Traffic Code governs the way you drive on Utah's roads and includes laws about speed limits, driving under the influence, and passing. Want to know if you have the right of way to cross over a divided highway? Check out Utah Code 41-6a-712. Want to know if you can regulate traffic on your own land? Check out Utah Code 41-6a-215. And if you're confused about how terms are used in the Traffic Code, there's a helpful definitions section that defines everything from "authorized emergency vehicle" to a "two-way left turn lane."

If you're looking for Utah's laws on driver licenses, those laws are located in the Public Safety Code. Check out Title 53, Chapter 3 for driver license information. This part of the Code governs who may or may not be licensed, renewal information, and the types of licenses that are available. The Utah Driver License Division also provides information about driver license laws, the handbook you should study to get ready for the driver test, and fees to apply for a license and more.

As of January 1, 2010, the Utah Driver License Division is making some changes about what types of documents are required to apply for a driver license or identification card. After this date, the Division will also no longer allow you to renew your license through the mail or online. For more information about these changes, visit the Division's website.

If you already have a traffic citation, check out the blog post on paying for traffic citations online. Or if you need to find information about traffic school, check out this blog post. And finally, the Utah Courts' website has general information about traffic matters.

If you have any questions about this information, please contact the law library.

December 09, 2009

Product Safety Recalls

toy.jpegThis holiday shopping season, you're probably browsing stores for the best bargains. How can you be sure that the gifts you're buying are safe? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in charge of protecting the public from injury or death from defective consumer products like kids' clothing, toys, household appliances, and sports equipment. Product recalls are searchable by month and year. You can also report unsafe products, read product safety tips, or sign up for future recall announcements. The agency's regulations can be found in 16 CFR Ch. II.

Not all products are protected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can find a larger collection of safety recalls, including those released by the CPSC, at Recalls.Gov. You can search recalls or browse them by broader categories, like motor vehicles.

December 08, 2009

Buyer Remorse?

Black_Friday_shoppers_in_2009.jpg Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. Do you regret any of your purchases? What are your rights as a consumer to return your purchases for refunds?

Check out the resources available online at the Utah Division of Consumer Protection's website. The Division has compiled a "Buyer Beware List" that provides information about companies that have violated laws and rules and have failed to follow the Division's order to pay a fine or other restitution. From the home page, you can also access a Frequently Asked Questions section, including whether you have a 3-day right of rescission for your purchases.

The Consumer Sales Practices Act, found in the Utah Code at Title 13, Chapter 11 and the Consumer Sales Practices Act Rules, found in the Administrative Code at 152-11 govern the rights and obligations of both the business and consumer. For example, Rule 152-11-10 states that a receipt must be provided to the buyer with these six pieces of information:
1) Description of the consumer commodity
2) The cash selling price
3) Trade-in information, if any
4) The length of time a refund or trade-in is available, if at all
5) Whether the purchase is refundable and under what conditions
6) Any other additional fees

If you made a major purchase over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, such as a car, house, or boat, other laws might protect you. For example, if you bought a new car on Black Friday and now realize you're driving a lemon, Utah's lemon law might provide some protections. Check out our previous post Don't Get Stuck with a Lemon for information.

December 07, 2009

Wireless Password: print

IMG_1851.JPGThe wireless password for the week of December 7, 2009 is print.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

December 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blog!

x aall simple_marketing.jpgOne year ago the staff of the Utah State Law Library launched this blog. Since then we've had well over 200 posts ranging from new court forms to backyard chickens to consumer protection issues.

Thank you for joining us - we are looking forward to sharing many more posts with you in the future!

December 02, 2009

5 Warnings about Pay Day Loans

You need cash now. Should you write a check to a pay day lender to get instant access to that cash? A pay day loan usually happens like this: you write a check or authorize deferred direct deposit to the lender for the amount of cash you need, plus any finance charges and fees. The pay day lender holds that check or waits to access your checking account until your next pay day, when the loan and fees must be paid in full. If you are unable to pay the full amount of the loan and additional fees, you'll incur a finance charge and the loan will be rolled over to the next pay day.

Before you sign the contract for a pay day loan, here are five warnings to remember:

1) Make sure the institution has a valid registration with the Department of Financial Institutions. If it does not not, the person or business is violating the law. Utah Code 7-23-201. You can also contact the Department of Financial Institutions to make a complaint against a pay day lender. Use the form provided to mail or email your complaint.

2) There are no maximum interest rates in Utah. However, the interest rate should not be unconscionable. Utah Code 70C-7-106.

3) The maximum roll over loan period is 12 weeks. Utah Code 7-23-401.

4) The pay day loan contract must be in writing. Utah Code 7-23-401.

5) The pay day lender must post "a complete schedule of any interest or fees charged for a deferred deposit loan that states the interest and fess using dollar amounts." Utah Code 7-23-401.

For more information about pay day loans, including ways to find alternative sources of funding, check out the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Alert: "Payday Loans Equal Very Costly Cash: Consumers Urged to Consider the Alternatives."