SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers met in a virtual interim legislative session Tuesday to consider a number of possible new laws.
One bill they’re considering has become known as “Sarah’s Law,” and it could have a big impact on how certain, suspected DUI drivers are dealt with after a serious crash.
It would give police and prosecutors the option of requesting no bail for a drunk driver involved in a crash resulting in death or serious bodily injury.
The bill stems from a horrible crash this past summer when Sarah Frei and her three friends were heading home from a day at Bear Lake.
But while driving through Logan Canyon, a speeding and suspected drunk driver hit them head-on, critically injuring all four teenagers.
Sarah, a high school cheerleader and athlete, wound up paralyzed and a double leg amputee.
“I would not want anything like this to happen to anyone else,” Frei said.
Adding insult to injury, according to the survivors, is that the driver was able to post bail and was out of jail the next morning, while all four teens were still in local emergency rooms being operated on.
“If he had used a gun instead of his car as a weapon, he would not have been allowed back into the general public so soon” Greg Frei, Sarah’s father said. “Please help us!”
The survivors and their families are asking legislators to amend the law so prosecutors can request no bail for suspected DUI drivers in situations like this.
“He should never have been allowed to leave the county jail without a judge reviewing the details of this accident to determine the proper amount of bail,” Sarah’s father said. “This wasn’t a typical DUI citation, this wasn’t a typical accident. There needs to be a safeguard in place for situations as severe as this.”
Typically, suspects who are not granted bail are involved in violent crimes like homicide and are considered a risk and threat to the community.
Sarah‘s law would change that.
“And there’s clear and convincing evidence that letting them out of jail would pose a public safety risk then the police or prosecutor can request that that person be held in jail pending adjudication or trial of the case.”
Lawmakers will take this up during the next legislative session in January, but it appears to have a lot of support.