This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
New drivers soon would face an additional written test, and undocumented immigrants would need to pay more for "driving privilege cards" under bills passed Monday by the Utah Senate.
Senators unanimously approved HB147, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature, to add an online test for first-time drivers after they complete a driver-education class. It would be in addition to a test given before drivers obtain a learner's permit.
Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said earlier he is concerned that while Utah had for years seen a decline in highway deaths, fatalities increased by 16 percent in 2014. Half of the questions on the new test would be related to the top causes of highway deaths in a previous year, such as not wearing seat belts or distracted driving.
The Senate also unanimously approved SB184 to require undocumented immigrants to pay more for Utah "driving privilege" cards and face a more robust background check. It now goes to the House for consideration.
Its sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said Utah had been conducting background checks for applicants that covered only a few neighboring states. However, he said one applicant had "committed a heinous crime in California" that was not discovered.
So he is proposing now to have a national FBI background check for applicants. That will raise the annual fee for driving privilege cards from $80 to $109.50.
Utah issued 35,232 driving-privilege cards in 2014. The numbers show a continuing decline from a peak of about 43,000 in 2008 when the recession hit full force and immigration slowed.