Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - Frequently Asked Questions


Traffic Law Enforcement


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

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.

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 call our dispatch center immediately. If the person is out of uniform insist on seeing his badge and identification card. You should ask for the officer's name and police department he/she is employed by. 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 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.

[Last Update - Thursday, 19-Dec-2013 12:24:02 MST]