Examining the Effectiveness of Utah’s Law Allowing for Telephonic Testimony at ALR Hearings
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Examining the Effectiveness of Utah’s Law Allowing for Telephonic Testimony at ALR Hearings

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    • Alternative Title:
      Examining the effectiveness of Utah's law allowing for telephonic testimony at administrative license revocation hearings
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      Final report
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    • Abstract:
      Difficulties associated with conducting administrative license hearings regarding Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses have often resulted in sporadic or ineffective use of administrative license revocation/suspension (ALR/ALS) laws around the United States. This project studied a unique solution, allowing telephonic participation at administrative license hearings in Utah, as a remedy to the problem of law enforcement officers failing to appear at ALR hearings. Methods employed to obtain pertinent information included interviews, focus groups, data analysis from State level driver license record databases (1995-2001), and a survey of law enforcement officers conducted in conjunction with the Utah Department of Public Safety. The evaluation focused on any impact on the number of ALR hearings held, the number of telephonic ALR hearings, the number of hearings where one or more participants failed to appear, and the outcome of all ALR hearings. Major findings of this study include the following. After the initiation of telephonic hearings in Utah, there was a statistically significant reduction (20%, p=0.01) of ALR hearings that resulted in the return of driver licenses due to the absence of the arresting law enforcement officers from administrative license hearings. Although this reduction cannot be entirely attributed to the use of telephonic hearings because the reduction began before the telephone method was implemented, the use of telephonic ALR hearings is considered to be a factor in the continued reduced rate of "no action" findings due to the absence of law enforcement officers. Telephonic ALR hearing capabilities in Utah have not yet been fully implemented throughout the State; thus, further reductions could be seen. Many law enforcement officers surveyed in Utah were not aware of ALR hearing telephonic capabilities. Ongoing training relative to ALR proceedings is important for law enforcement and hearing officers. Usually due to increasingly strained resources, some law enforcement officials do not encourage officers to become proficient in administrative license hearing proceedings, or even to attend ALR hearings. All individuals in law enforcement must understand that time spent in an ALR hearing could reduce or eliminate the amount of time required of the arresting officers during judicial proceedings, if the defendant decides to plead guilty because of strong testimony by the arresting officers during the ALR hearing. But more importantly, the absence of the arresting officers at ALR hearings automatically reinstates driving privileges to the accused, forfeiting the chance to swiftly remove unsafe drivers from roadways. /Abstract from report summary page/
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