Proposed law would ban tattooing minors regardless of parental consent

Posted at 9:40 PM, Feb 05, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- Anyone under the age of 18 can get a tattoo in Utah with consent from a parent or guardian, but a new law in the works might change all of that.

House Bill 143 would make it illegal for minors to get a tattoo, no exceptions.

"I think it's a fantastic proposal," said Eddy Del Rio, a tattoo artist at Anchor Ink in Salt Lake City.

He said he's grateful he waited until he was 19 years old to get his first tattoo.

"You can make bad tattoo decisions no matter how old you are, but when you're young and you're impulsive it happens a lot," Del Rio said.

Eddy said that even with parental consent, he refuses to tattoo a minor.

"People will come in all the time and say, 'My mom is here' and we say, 'Sorry, no. We just don't.' We don't want to open that potential Pandora's box," Eddy said.

He argues not only is it a permanent decision to make at a young age, but said even with parental consent, problems often come up.

"Even though they might have one guardian present, maybe there's a dispute on down the road, the other guardian says, 'Why did you do that to our kid? I'm really upset,'" Eddie said.

These are just a few of the reasons why Representative LaVar Christensen, R-District 32, proposed his bill to cancel out the wording of Utah's current law that allows tattooing with consent of a parent.

"A tattoo is so serious and has such a lasting impact that states all across America have determined through the democratic process, listening to parents and listening to citizens on the short list of things of the law where people wait until they're 18 to make that decision for themselves," Christensen said.

Seventeen states across the nation have similar bills. Christensen argues the bill does not trample on parental rights.

"There's a lot of considerations, there's a lot of people that feel strongly about it, and we're trying to protect individual liberty but also understanding there are areas where you wait until you're 18," Christensen said.

Tattoo artists who violate the bill could be hit with up to 90 days in jail, face a $1,500 fine and could be held responsible for the cost of the tattoo removal.