Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - F.A.Q.


Traffic Law Enforcement

Traffic Accidents

Disabled Vehicles

Traffic Laws

Equipment Issues

Oversize & Overweight Restrictions

Firearms

Shoulder Patches & Collector Pins

Mission, Values, and Areas of Emphasis


Top How many miles per hour over the speed limit can I drive without being stopped by a trooper?

Each law enforcement officer is given discretion in their enforcement of the law. Therefore, the speed limit enforcement tolerance varies between troopers and circumstances. Whenever you drive in excess of the posted limit, you place yourself in jeopardy of being stopped and cited. Efforts have been made to set reasonable speed limits, so do yourself and others a favor and drive in compliance with the law.

To check your vehicle's speedometer for accuracy, find a level area on the Interstate where mile markers are posted along the shoulder of the road.  Drive a constant speed between mile markers and use a stop watch to determine how long it takes to go a mile.  Then divide 3600 by the number of seconds it took to cover the mile.  Example:  3600 divided by 48 seconds = 75 mph.  That calculation will give you the speed you were actually traveling.  Compare that speed to the speed registered on your speedometer and you will know the amount of speedometer error, if any.

Time (seconds) Speed (mph)
60 60
59 61
58 62
57.1 63
56.25 64
55.3 65
54.5 66
53.7 67
52.9 68
52.1 69
51.4 70
50.7 71
50 72
49.3 73
48.6 74
48 75
47.3 76
46.7 77
46.1 78
45.5 79
45 80

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What should I do if I see a person driving recklessly or aggressively?

If you believe the person’s driving presents a significant risk to the safety of others, you should call 911 on your cell phone, if you have one, and give the dispatcher a description of the vehicle, the license number and state, and location and direction of travel. The dispatcher will attempt to have a trooper or other law enforcement officer intercept the hazardous driver.

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Some people are so concerned with the hazardous driving of others that they want to personally sign a complaint against the other driver and have them charged with an offense like reckless driving. In order to do this, a person must be able to positively identify the driver and be willing to go to court and testify under oath that the person they have identified committed the offense. Most people can’t positively identify the driver or don’t have the time to devote to this process, so it is usually best to report the observation and let the police take things from there. Never attempt to stop or confront the driver of a vehicle being driven recklessly.

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What can I do if I see a large truck dropping rocks or gravel on the highway?

If you have a cell phone, call the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction for that highway.  For example: If you are on the Interstate, call the UHP; if you are in the county, call the Sheriff's Office, if you are in a city, call that city's police department.  You will need to be able to tell the dispatcher where the problem is occurring, a description of the truck, direction of travel, name of the company, and unit number or license plate number.  The dispatcher will then broadcast this information so an officer can intercept the truck and take appropriate enforcement action.

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What can I do if a truck drops a rock that bounces up and breaks my windshield?

Write down where you were, what time the incident happened, the direction the truck was traveling, a detailed description of the truck and driver (including company name, make of the truck, color, unit number, license plate number, etc.), and exactly what happened.  You must be certain the rock or debris that broke your windshield was dropped by that particular truck.  The trucking company has no responsibility for rocks that happen to be flipped up off the roadway.  Contact the trucking company as soon as possible and file your complaint and claim.  This is a civil matter and must be resolved between you and the trucking company.  Law enforcement can only take enforcement action if an officer personally witnesses the truck dropping rocks or debris.

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Do I have to stop for an unmarked car displaying red or red & blue lights?

Yes. Utah law requires that you stop for a vehicle displaying emergency lights or sounding a siren. If you think the vehicle might be someone impersonating a police officer, you should lock your doors, roll up your windows, and drive to a well-lighted area where other people are present before stopping. If the person is out of uniform insist on seeing his badge and identification card. If, after seeing these credentials, you still feel something isn’t right, insist that a marked patrol car come to the scene. Remain in your locked vehicle until a uniformed officer arrives.

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I received a traffic ticket from a trooper.  What do I do?

You must appear before or post bail with the court listed on the left side of the citation, not sooner than five days and not later than 14 days after receiving the ticket. If you fail to appear or fail to post bail, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. The name, address, and phone number of the appropriate court should have been written on the left side of the ticket. A directory of Utah courts, including their addresses and phone numbers, can be accessed by clicking on the "Utah Courts" button on our web pages.

The Utah Highway Patrol does not have a centralized database of citation information. This type of information is maintained in the section (area) offices. If you lost your copy of the ticket, you should click on the "To Contact UHP" button on our web pages and select the area of the map where you were when the ticket was issued. This action will give you the address and phone number for that area’s UHP office. Contact that office regarding your lost citation.

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I got a traffic ticket and want to attend traffic safety school to get the fine reduced.  How do I do that?

Traffic safety schools are established by individual government/court jurisdictions, at their option. If you are interested in this possibility, contact the court to which you were referred and ask them if they have a program of this type.

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I understand that when I get a traffic ticket, I also get "points" on my driving record. What are "points" and how does the points system work?

The points system is a part of Utah's Driver Improvement Program. Points are assigned for specific types of violations. Upon forfeiture of bail or conviction of a moving violation, points are assessed to a person’s driving record according to the following schedule:

Reckless Driving:  80
Speeding:
     1-10 mph over: 35
     11-20 mph over: 55
     21+ mph over: 75
Failure to Yield Right-of-Way: 60
Following Too Closely: 60
Wrong Way on One-Way Street: 60
Running a Red Traffic Light: 50
Running a Stop Sign: 50
Improper Lookout: 50
Improper Passing: 50
Improper Turn: 50
Negligent Collision: 50
Other Moving Violations: 40-60

NOTE: Points may vary plus or minus 10 percent depending upon severity of the conviction. Certain serious violations, such as DUI, require mandatory suspension or revocation and are not included in the points system.

Provisional License Points System

A driver under 21 years of age, who accumulates 70 or more points in three years, may be suspended or denied for one month to a year, depending upon the severity of the person’s driving record.

Regular Points System

A driver 21 years of age or older, who accumulates 200 or more points in three years, may be suspended for three months to a year, depending upon the severity of the person’s driving record.

 

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How can I clear my own driving record?

By safe driving, you can clear your own record. As an incentive for safety, the point system provides that when you drive one full year without a moving traffic violation conviction, one-half of the accumulated points will be removed from your driving record. If you drive two successive years without a conviction, all points are deleted. Points for individual convictions are automatically removed from your record three years after the date of the violation. As an additional incentive, once in any three-year period, 50 points may be deleted from your record for completion of a driver improvement course recommended by the department.

 

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I went to the court to appear or post bail and they said they don’t have a copy of the ticket yet.  What do I do?

The law gives the issuing enforcement agency four days to get a copy of a citation to the court. If you appear before that time has passed, they may not have a copy of the ticket yet. If you appeared after five days and the court still doesn’t have a copy of the ticket, ask the court clerk to call the local UHP office and ask them to fax a copy of the ticket to the court so you can appear or post bail.

 

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I was stopped by a trooper and my driver license, registration, or insurance card was not returned.  What do I do?

If a trooper fails to return one of these documents to you without explanation and lawful justification, please contact the trooper’s supervisor at the area UHP office. You can locate the area UHP office address and phone number by clicking on the "To Contact UHP" button on our web pages and select the area of the map where you were when you were stopped.

 

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I was stopped by a trooper and he/she was discourteous or handled the situation poorly.  What can I do?

The Utah Highway Patrol expects its troopers to be courteous and professional when dealing with the public. If you want to file a formal complaint or just want to talk to the trooper’s supervisor about the situation, please call the UHP office in the area where you were stopped. If you don’t have the office phone number, you can obtain that information by clicking on the "To Contact UHP" button on any of our web pages.

 

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I have seen Utah Highway Patrol troopers driving their patrol cars while off-duty.  Are they permitted to do that?

Troopers are permitted to take their patrol cars home because they are subject to call 24-hours a day. Troopers are often called out from home when they are off-duty to handle a problem because other troopers aren’t available. Troopers are also permitted reasonable use of their patrol cars while off-duty. Experience has proven that the increased police presence deters crime and traffic offenses.

 

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What should I do if I witness or come upon a crash?

Stop in a safe location. Check for injuries and call 911 from your cell phone or the nearest regular phone. Keep the situation from getting worse by making sure approaching traffic is warned of the problem ahead. Render first aid if you are trained to do so. Don’t move the injured parties!  Remain on the scene until police arrive. Tell the responding officers what you saw and did prior to their arrival.

 

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When does a traffic accident report have to be completed?

Anytime there is a death, injuries, or total property damage to the apparent extent of $1,000 or more, a report is required.

 

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I was in a crash and need a copy of the investigating trooper’s report.  How can I get one?

If you need a copy of the accident investigation report soon after the incident, it is best to contact the Utah Highway Patrol office in the county or area where the crash occurred. You can get the address, phone number, and e-mail address for those offices by clicking on the "To Contact UHP" button on the left side of our web pages. A copy of the official report costs $5.00.

Please note that accident reports have been designated by law as protected records. These reports will only be provided to the following:

  • a person involved in the accident, excluding witnesses to the accident
  • a person suffering loss or injury in the accident
  • an agent, parent, or legal guardian of a person involved in an accident. An agent is a person’s attorney, insurer, or any other individual or entity with written permission from the involved party to receive the report.
  • a licensed private investigator
  • public law enforcement officers acting in their official capacity
  • local, state, and federal agencies that use crash information in their official capacity
  • a member of the press or broadcast news media (certain restrictions apply)

 

Top
I was in a crash and want to get a copy of the photographs taken.  Can I do that?

Copies of UHP photographs taken at a crash site can be purchased by those involved in the crash by contacting Utah Highway Patrol headquarters. Please call (801) 965-4518 for information concerning the cost of photographs and to place an order.

 

Top
What should I do if my car breaks down out on the highway?

Immediately turn on your four-way flashers. Make sure the vehicle is moved to a safe location in the emergency lane or on the shoulder of the highway. If you are on the Interstate, a busy highway, or in a rural area stay in the vehicle with the doors locked and use your wireless telephone to call for help. If you don’t have a wireless phone, put a sign in the rear window asking that the police be called. If you must abandon the vehicle, leave a note on the dash or under the windshield wiper explaining the problem and where you have gone. Make sure the vehicle is locked and nothing of value is in sight.

 

Top
How long can I leave a disabled vehicle along the highway?

If a vehicle presents any kind of hazard to traffic, it will be removed immediately. The driver of a vehicle abandoned in the emergency lane of an Interstate highway or other major state highway will generally only have two hours to remove the vehicle before it is subject to removal by the police. If a vehicle has been moved to a safe location, which is completely off of the paved portion of the highway, it will generally be allowed to sit there for 24 hours before being removed by the police. If the police remove an abandoned vehicle, the cost of towing and storage is the owner’s responsibility.

 

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What does Utah law require regarding the wearing of safety belts and the use of child safety seats?

Utah law requires the following:

  • The driver and all passengers must use a seat belt, if one is available.
  • Children up to age 8 (through age 7) must be in an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat when traveling in a passenger vehicle. There is an exception to the law that states that children younger than eight are not required to be in a booster seat if they are at least 57 inches tall (4'9"). At that point, they should use the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt without a booster.
  • A driver may be stopped and cited if anyone under 19 years of age is unrestrained. Click here for more information about car seats and here for more information about booster seats.
  • A driver is responsible for unrestrained occupants in the vehicle that are under the age of 16.
  • When a vehicle is occupied solely by people 19 years of age and older, they may not be stopped and cited for a safety belt violation unless the vehicle operator has been stopped for another law violation.

 

Top
Do motorcycle riders have to wear a helmet in Utah?

A person under the age of 18 may not operate or ride on a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle on the highways of this state unless the person is wearing an approved helmet.

 

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Can people legally ride in the bed of a pickup truck?

Utah law does not prohibit people from riding in the bed of a pickup truck. However, since occupant restraints are not available in that location, it isn't a good idea. It's much better if people ride inside the cab of the truck and use safety belts.  If someone must ride in the bed of a truck, they should be seated on the bed of the truck and as close to the cab as possible.  Never permit anyone to sit on the sides of a truck bed or on an open tailgate.

 

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Does Utah law permit people to ride inside a 5th wheel RV trailer while it is being towed on the highway?

No.  Unfortunately, Utah law does not distinguish between 5th wheel trailers and other types of trailers.

 

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Is it legal for me to use a cellular phone while driving in Utah?

Currently, Utah law does not prohibit the use of a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. However, the UHP recommends common sense in the use of these devices. You are urged to follow these guidelines:

  • If possible, dial the phone when the vehicle is not in motion, such as at a traffic light or stop sign.
  • If you use a wireless phone a lot while driving, consider getting a hands-free device.
  • Learn to operate the phone without looking at it.
  • Never allow a phone conversation to distract you in your driving.
  • Keep calls brief.
  • While talking, keep your head up and your eyes on the road. Frequently check your mirrors.
  • Don’t try to take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.
  • If you must look up information, find a safe and legal place to stop, and do your research while the car is not in motion.  If you are on the freeway, don't stop in the emergency lane to do this; instead, exit the freeway and find a safe place to stop on a surface street.

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Is it legal to drive a vehicle in Utah without shoes on?

Utah law does not require that shoes be worn while operating a motor vehicle. However, common sense should prevail and shoes should be worn. It is much easier and safer to operate a vehicle while wearing shoes.

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How soon after moving to Utah does a person need to get a Utah driver license and Utah registration on their vehicles?

If a person has moved to Utah for the purpose of establishing residency or has been employed in Utah for over 60 days on a permanent assignment or has lived in the state for 60 days or more, then you need to get a Utah driver license.

Utah law requires you to register your vehicle in Utah within 60 days if you:

  • have established a permanent home for yourself and your family in this state;
  • live in Utah, continuously or non-continuously, for a total of six months, regardless of whether you have a permanent residence in another state;
  • engage in a trade, profession, or occupation in Utah, or accept other than seasonal work in the state and do not commute into the state;
  • declare yourself a resident of Utah to obtain privileges not ordinarily extended to nonresidents, including going to school, enrolling your children in local schools without paying nonresident tuition or fees;
  • claim a primary residential property tax exemption on a home located in Utah;
  • or obtain a Utah driver license.

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Can a person under the age of 16, that has a learner's permit from their home state, legally drive in Utah?

No.  Utah law prohibits anyone under the age of 16, whether resident or nonresident, from operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state.

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I bought a used car recently and need to have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspected before I can get it registered.  How can I get a VIN inspection?

All peace officers, designated officers and employees of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and official safety inspection certified inspectors are qualified by law to conduct VIN inspections.  The easiest way to get a vehicle's VIN inspected is to have it done at the same time as the safety inspection.

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Can I have tinting on the windows of my vehicle?

Window tinting is allowed in Utah as long as it complies with the law). Windshields may have tinting on the top four inches of glass. That tinting must be transparent. The remaining glass on the windshield must have a minimum of 70 percent light transmittance. Driver and front seat passenger side windows must have a minimum of 43 percent light transmittance. Rear side and back windows on passenger cars must have a minimum of 28 percent light transmittance. Windows behind the front seat on federally designated multipurpose vehicles may be tinted to federal AS-1 standards (no minimum light transmittance mandated). If the windows behind the driver’s seat are tinted, the vehicle must have outside rear-view mirrors on the left and right side of the vehicle. If you have additional questions on this subject, please contact the Safety Inspection Section at (801) 284-5540.

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Can I legally alter the height of my pickup truck with a lift kit or oversized tires?

Vehicles with a wheel base in excess of 100 inches may be lifted 4 inches with mechanical lifts and 4 inches with oversize tires. Vehicles with a wheel base of 100 inches or less may be lifted 2 inches with a mechanical lift and 2 inches with oversize tires. A body lift may not exceed 2 inches and is considered a mechanical lift. If oversize tires extend beyond the fender, they must be covered with a flexible fender extender. Flexible fender extenders may not be wider than 3 inches. If you have further questions on this subject, please contact the Safety Inspection Section at (801) 284-5540.

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Can I have any cracks or stars in my windshield and still have it pass safety inspection?

There can be no cracks that run the full length of the windshield, either horizontally or vertically. Cracks in a vehicle windshield may be repaired if the crack or combination of cracks does not exceed 24 inches in length and is not in the acute area of the windshield. There can be no damage to the acute area of the windshield larger than 1/4 inch in diameter. The acute area of the windshield is measured by bisecting the windshield horizontally, with an intersecting line drawn through the middle of the steering column. An area of 8 ½ inches wide and 5 ½ inches in height is then measured at the cross section. This is the acute area of the windshield. If you have additional questions on this subject, please contact the Safety Inspection Section at (801) 284-5540.

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Can I use studded snow tires on my car?

Utah law permits the use of studded snow tires between October 15th and March 31st.

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Do I have to have a front license plate on my vehicle?  There isn’t a place to mount one.

Utah law requires that every vehicle registered in Utah, other than a motorcycle, trailer, or semitrailer, must have a license plate securely attached to the front and rear of the vehicle. Federal standards require that every vehicle manufactured for sale in the United States must have the capability of mounting a license plate on the front and rear of the vehicle. If you contact the vehicle dealer, they can obtain the necessary kit for mounting a front license plate.

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I want to install some "after-market equipment" on my vehicle, but I’m not sure whether it is legal or not. Who can I check with?

Whenever you have concerns regarding the legality of anything having to do with modifications to a vehicle registered in Utah, you may contact the Safety Inspection Section at (801) 284-5540 for assistance.

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What are Utah’s legal limitations regarding vehicle width, height, length, and load extensions?

Utah law and Utah Regulations for Legal & Permitted Vehicles impose the following restrictions on vehicle width, height, length, and load extensions:

  • A vehicle with or without a load may not exceed a width of 8 ½ feet.
  • A vehicle with or without a load may not exceed a height of 14 feet.
  • A single-unit vehicle, with or without a load, may not exceed a length of 45 feet, including the front and read bumpers.
  • Special rules regarding vehicle length apply to semi tractors and trailers. Please consult the statute for these limitations.
  • All other combinations of vehicles, with or without a load, (such as a motor home pulling a boat) may not exceed a total length of 65 feet.
  • A vehicle or combination of vehicles may not carry any load extending more than three feet beyond the front of the vehicle body or more than six feet beyond the rear of the bed or body of the vehicle.
  • A passenger vehicle may not carry any load extending beyond the line of the fenders on the left side of the vehicle, nor extending more than six inches beyond the line of the fenders on the right side of the vehicle.

Any exception to the above provisions must be authorized by a permit issued by the Utah Department of Transportation.

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How can a commercial vehicle driver obtain an oversize or overweight permit in Utah?

The issuance of oversize and overweight permits is handled by the Utah Department of Transportation, Ports of Entry. You can obtain all the information you need on this topic by visiting the Ports of Entry web site.

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What are Utah's laws concerning firearms?

Title 76-10-500 through Title 76-10-531 of the Utah Code covers firearms.  Many of your questions regarding Utah's gun laws can be answered by clicking here.

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Can I legally carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle in Utah?

Utah law prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers and valid concealed firearm permit holders from carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

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I want to get a UHP shoulder patch for a collection.  Can I do that?

Collectors can purchase a beehive shoulder emblem, like the ones worn on the troopers’ uniforms, by contacting Utah Highway Patrol headquarters, either in person or by mail.  Each shoulder patch costs $2.50 and the purchaser must certify that the patch will be treated with respect and will only be used lawfully. Impersonating a peace officer is an offense punishable by law .

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Does the Utah Highway Patrol or the Department of Public Safety have collector pins?

Periodically, the UHP and DPS produces unique collector pins that can be purchased by the public. You can check on availability and cost by calling UHP headquarters at (801) 965-4518, during business hours.

[Last Update - Monday, 24-Mar-2014 11:13:56 MDT]