Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - Driver License Laws

The 1933 Utah legislative session passed the Driver License Act, with an effective date in 1934. By 1934, drivers were required to successfully complete a written examination, an oral examination, practical visual tests, and the applicant was required to drive in traffic accompanied by an examining officer. The responsibility for examinations and licensing was given to the Utah Highway Patrol. Many motorists during the 1930’s and 1940’s chose to ignore this law. Because the motor vehicle laws were changing so rapidly during this period of time, there was a lot of misunderstanding regarding their enforcement. Patrolman Loren Squires of Washington County recalled one such example when he stopped a lady for a traffic violation and she promptly announced, "You can’t give me a ticket; I don’t even have a drivers license."

Loren noted that while testing a Dixie College professor for a driver’s license, the professor asked, "What is a pedestrian?" Loren could not resist this response, "When the father comes home he’s the pedestrian. The kids get the car."

By 1935, patrolmen issued 18,300 operator licenses and 5,700 chauffeur licenses. The fee for an operator license was twenty-five cents, good for three years; and the fee for a chauffeur license was two dollars, good for only one year or fraction thereof.

Effective November 15, 1939, the State Tax Commission assumed the duties of testing applicants for driver licenses. Until this date, the Patrol conducted examinations on definite schedules at each county seat throughout the state. During 1938, the Patrol conducted a total of 24,475 examinations and 29,120 in 1939.

Many patrolmen continued to provide these examinations in remote areas of the state long after 1939. The following excerpt was taken from a letter dated October 21, 1953, by Colonel Marion A. Snow addressed to Trooper Roland A. Reese, assigned to Cache and Rich Counties. "Arrangements have been made by the Driver License Division of the Department of Public Safety to conduct any and all driver license examinations within your area. In view of this recent development, may we request that you return all equipment and material pertaining to driver license examination to headquarters and that you refer any future requests for such examinations to the Drivers’ License branch office at Logan."

[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:39 MST]