From self-driving cars and delivery drones to hate crimes penalties, hundreds of new laws go into effect in Utah

Posted at 2:10 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 11:54:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Hundreds of new laws are going into effect in Utah.

Of the 574 bills passed into law by the Utah State Legislature earlier this year, a majority go into effect May 14.

Some of the bigger laws include:

  • Utah has the first of its kind digital privacy law, requiring police to get a warrant to look at your emails, instant messages, etc.
  • So-called "fringe gambling" devices face a crackdown.
  • The marriage age in Utah is going up to 18 (16 or 17 with a judge's permission).
  • Those e-scooters all over the sidewalks will be allowed where bicycles are, but it will be illegal to drink and scoot.
  • Utah's new hate crimes law takes effect, enhancing penalties for targeting people based on a list of categories including race, religion, sexual orientation and even political expression.
  • Ballot initiatives will face more scrutiny under a series of bills lawmakers passed in response to several successful citizen referendums.
  • Motorcycles will be allowed to ride between lanes when traffic is stopped.
  • Delivery drones and robots will be given access to sidewalks.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said she was happy with a big law change. The legislature modified a law that blocked "anti-idling" ordinances from being effective.

Prior to the change, cities had to issue three warnings and then they could ticket for idling. Now, it's a warning and then a ticket.

"It’s not so much about putting the hammer down as it is about educating the public on what idling is doing to our air. We’re trying to get people to realize that it’s always best to turn your car off, not idle. That alone will clear our air," Mayor Biskupski told FOX 13.

Another big law means you'll have to share the roads with self-driving vehicles. The legislature cleared the way for autonomous vehicles to operate on Utah roads by modifying the legal definition of a "driver."

Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, called it a "game changer." But he said drivers need to be aware that vehicles of varying degrees of autonomy will be on the roads.

"All of us, I don’t care how good you are, you’re a bad driver," he said Monday. "So you’ve got a bunch of bad drivers driving with cars designed to follow the law. They’re going to keep in their lane. They’re going to follow the speed limit, proper distance behind the car in front of them. What are we going to do? We’re going to cut them off, we’re going to honk our horns, we’re getting mad."

Fully autonomous vehicles must register with the state before operating and data will be collected to see how it goes.

See the full list of laws going into effect here