Utah lawmakers have a proud tradition of writing their drug laws with an 8-inch paint-brush. Utah’s Paraphernalia Act, for instance, is so broad that it would probably be easier to define what isn’t illegal. (read more about it here). Similarly, Utah’s “Drug Free” Zones cover so much territory that they would be better off trying to identify the small areas in the state that aren’t “drug free.”
So what is a drug-free zone in Utah? Well, according to Utah Code 58-37-8:
- Any school, public or private, of any level, from preschool to university
- Child-care facilities;
- Public parks, amusement parks, arcades, or recreation centers;
- Houses of Worship
- Shopping malls, sports facilities, stadiums, arenas, theaters, movie houses, playhouses, or parking lots or structures adjacent thereto;
And, here’s the kicker:
- Any area that is within 1,000 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of any schools, child-care facilities, houses of worship, shopping malls, sports facilities stadiums, arenas, theaters, movie houses, playhouses, or parking lots or structures adjacent thereto.
So, basically, any area in a city or town will probably qualify. For instance, I live in a regular residential neighborhood in Salt Lake, and my house is inside at least 4 overlapping drug free zones (2 schools and 2 churches).
Why does it matter where the “drug-free” zones are? Because the penalties are harsher for any drug offense that takes place within the zone. A distribution charge which would usually be a third-degree felony turns into a second degree felony. A possession charge which would usually be a misdemeanor B turns into a misdemeanor A. It’s a penalty enhancement.
Incidentally, I think I’ve identified a point in Salt Lake County which is not within a drug-free zone; It’s a salt marsh out behind the airport. :
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, whether in a drug-free zone or not, feel free to contact me to discuss your case.