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If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t wait, contact us now to discuss your case.

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If you are arrested in Utah for DUI, you will be facing two cases.

  1. A criminal case
  2. A license revocation or suspension case
Learn More


When it comes to hiring a DUI attorney, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are four important questions you should ask any DUI attorney you consider hiring.Learn More


The penalties for DUI have steadily increased over the years. The legislature enhances DUI punishment annually.

If you are convicted, you will face significant penalties.Learn More

Utah Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney

It’s not what you did…it’s what you do now that’s important, starting with the right defense lawyer.

Facing a Utah DUI charge can be a scary feeling. The Beehive State has a reputation for being one of the toughest in the country when it comes to DUI laws and penalties – and for good reason. Hefty fines, extended license suspensions and a multitude of other DUI-related costs can quickly add up and make life miserable for drivers and their families.

However, what many Utah drivers fail to realize is that a DUI arrest does not necessarily equal a DUI conviction. There are many factors involved in impaired driving cases and having a thorough understanding of the law is crucial in order to protect your rights. That’s why working with an experienced Utah DUI attorney can make all the difference in guiding your case to the best resolution possible.


Like a handful of others, Utah is an implied consent law state. Meaning that as a licensed driver, you agree to submit to chemical testing by law enforcement if suspected of DUI. Refusing to take such breath, blood, urine or oral fluid tests can result in automatic suspension of your license for up to 18 months. Strangely enough, the penalty for refusal is actually longer than if you were to be convicted of the DUI itself.

When it comes to DUI-related penalties, there are two main categories: Driver License Division Issues and Criminal Charges. While most people tend to focus on the criminal aspects of an arrest (fines, jail time, etc.), the protection of your driving privileges is equally important as well. Here is how the two categories differ:


If arrested for DUI in Utah, the state has the right to automatically suspend your license for up to 120 days. That is, unless you exercise your right to file for a hearing with the Driver License Division. It is important to note that this request must be filed within 10 days of your arrest. Neglecting to ask for this hearing – or failing to show up during your scheduled appointment – will cause the automatic suspension to kick in.

Drivers are sometimes confused as police are required to take your license immediately if you are charged with a DUI. They will, however, issue you a temporary license that’s good for 30 days with the 120-day automatic suspension following afterward. This 30-day window is enough time to file for a hearing request, have your case reviewed and be notified of the decision.

If you win your hearing, your license will not be suspended administratively by the Driver License Division. However, you still need to win your criminal case to be completely absolved. The benefit of filing for a hearing is that you may still be able to drive while waiting for your criminal court date to arrive. In some instances, depending on case backlogs, your trial date can be six months or more down the road.

All of this applies to a 1st offense with 10 years, while if a 2nd or 3rd offense, the revocation time will be 24 month rather than 4 months on either the administrative action or DUI conviction. Also, restricted or limited licenses for to and from work, school or counseling are not allowed under Utah law. Any DUI conviction requires an Ignition Interlock Device for a minimum of 18 months.

What Happens During the Hearing?

You and your attorney (should you choose to hire one) will meet with the Driver License Hearing Officer and the law enforcement official who arrested you. These meetings can take place in person or over the phone. To begin with, the arresting officer will explain how and why you were arrested and the evidence used to arrive at that decision.

Afterward, you (and your attorney) will be allowed to cross-examine the police officer in the hope of convincing the hearing officer your license should not be suspended. Surprisingly, there are a number of reasons that your suspension could be dismissed:

  • Arguing that the chemical testing was inconclusive or performed incorrectly
  • Explaining how the investigation or arrest was “unreasonable”
  • Pointing out procedural issues
  • The arresting officer failing to appear at the hearing

Obviously, many of the points mentioned are technical in nature – thus hiring an attorney to assist with your hearing makes sense. Having an attorney present also gives your criminal case a great jump-start as your lawyer is able to preview the evidence that will be used against you in court. This “sneak peek” allows your attorney more time to investigate and build a stronger case in your defense.


It bears mentioning that your Driver License Hearing and criminal charges are COMPLETELY SEPARATE and have little (if nothing) to do with one another. A successful hearing does not mean you automatically win your court case (or vice versa). The one exception being if you lose your hearing, but win your criminal case, your license suspension may be reduced.

Under current Utah DUI traffic code, you can be charged with a DUI under the following conditions:

  • Having a .08 or higher BAC (blood alcohol concentration) based on breath or blood (chemical) testing; OR
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle
  • Any combination of the above

Criminal charges for DUI are pretty much what you would expect. These include fines, jail time, license suspensions, probation, and substance abuse education. All of which vary on the number of prior DUI convictions and severity of each particular instance. More specific information regarding penalties will be discussed later.

Start Here

Contact us today to begin your free case analysis.

If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t wait, contact us now to discuss your case.

Call or click 24/7 and someone will help you. Northern Utah: 801-627-1110 or Salt Lake Area: 801-328-1110

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The phrase “DUI” is a broad term that is applied to a number of different intoxication types. While alcohol is the first substance that comes to mind, there are other forms of DUI that are punishable under the same rules and regulations. Here are the most frequent:

  • Alcohol – the most common type of DUI. As previously mentioned, a BAC of .08 or higher – or the reduced ability to safely operate a motor vehicle – could result in an arrest. The type of alcohol involved does not matter (beer, wine, or liquor), only the level of intoxication or impairment.
  • Drugs – similar to alcohol DUIs, but instead based on the impact of controlled substances in the human body. Both illegal and prescription drugs fall into this category and can include anything from marijuana, cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to over-the-counter sleep aids and physician-prescribed medications.

While taking a valid prescription drug is not illegal, its impact on your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle can be. Thus many sober drivers find themselves facing DUIs for correctly following medical advice.

  • Metabolite – also known as Driving with a Measurable Controlled Substance. Utah is one of only a handful of states that have enacted metabolite-based DUI laws. While traditional alcohol and drug-related DUIs normally involve “active” intoxication, metabolite arrests take the process a step further.

Under a Metabolite charge, a driver can face DUI for simply having trace residue of a drug present in their system – even though they are not impaired at the time of arrest. In other words, although you may not have used a controlled substance recently, you can still be charged if the drug or its metabolite remains in your bloodstream.

Keep in mind that the length of time metabolites remain present varies depending on the specific drug taken and the person using it. Some are gone after just a few days while others (like marijuana) can linger in one’s system for weeks at a time.


If you fail to take swift action, then yes, it will be. Utah state law explicitly says that persons over 21 years of age who are arrested for DUI shall automatically lose their license for 120 days. Those under 21 will lose their license until they reach their 21st birthday. However, there is an option that may save your driving privileges.

By filing for a DUI hearing within 10 days of your arrest, you may be able to keep your license (at least temporarily). Should you prevail at your hearing, your license will not be immediately suspended and you can continue to legally drive until your court date.

Remember, you are not completely in the clear unless you win your criminal case as well. Should you lose your criminal trial, your license can be suspended from 120 days up to three years. This point further illustrates the benefit of utilizing your right to request a DUI hearing.


Although the circumstances surrounding each arrest are unique – and thus sentencing and penalties will vary – there are some general guidelines that apply to most every DUI case that goes to court. Even for a first offense, drivers can face harsh penalties and stiff fines. For example:

  • Suspension of driver’s license for 120 days. Second arrests result in an automatic two-year suspension while three or more arrests (within a 10-year period) becomes a felony conviction.
  • Fines and fees ranging from $700 – $1950
  • Minimum 48 hours in jail, community service or home confinement

Keep in mind that these penalties are starting points and can go even higher depending on the severity of the crime and any number of other extenuating circumstances. The courts will consider factors such as prior driving records, level of intoxication, if there was an accident or personal injuries involved and the number of and type of passengers in the car (especially minors).

Additionally, the presiding judge and the county of the arrest can play a factor in the sentencing process as well. Not to mention the degree of accountability or level of remorse displayed by the driver.

Fines, fees and jail time are usually the main cause for concern, but there are a number of other penalties that can be added to your sentence also. These additional requirements are not only burdensome but can significantly increase your out-of-pocket expenses in the long run.

  1. Substance Abuse Classes and Treatment – designed to help the offender recover and deal with any addiction issues. Although the state mandates the classes, the driver is responsible for covering the tuition to pay for them.
  1. Ignition Interlock Devices – prevent drivers from starting their vehicles without submitting to a BAC (blood alcohol content) test first. In other words, a breathalyzer machine that’s tied to your car’s ignition system.

Again, another court/DMV mandated device, but the user is responsible for all associated costs. These fees include installation, removal, monitoring, repairs and violation resets. Most convictions require an IID to be used for at least 18 months of service.

  1. Additional Fines, Suspensions and Jail Sentences – If there are enhancements (additional charges) involved, penalties can increase significantly. Arrest circumstances that could lead to enhanced sentencing include:
  • Child endangerment
  • Refusing to take a breath test
  • Prior convictions
  • High BAC levels
  • Bodily injury or death
  • Probation for other crimes or no driver’s license.

Depending on the case, there may be other enhancements involved as well. However, this goes to show that there are often more charges possible besides just a straight DUI.

  1. Higher Insurance Rates – it comes as no surprise that tickets and moving violations can impact insurance rates – and being charged with DUI is one of the worst. A conviction can lead to substantially higher premiums and – in some cases – even dropped coverage.
  1. Becoming an Alcohol Restricted Driver – even though your license suspension may only be for 120 days, monitoring can continue far longer. As an alcohol restricted driver, if you’re caught driving with ANY alcohol in your system for two years following your conviction additional penalties will be applied.

Even routine traffic stops can trigger a suspension (if alcohol is present) as the .08 BAC legal limit no longer applies.

While the penalties for alcohol and drug-based DUIs are similar, it’s worth mentioning that Metabolite DUI’s are handled slightly different. While the 120-day license suspension still applies, metabolite violators can face a jail sentence of up to six months and $1950 in fines.

These penalties would be in addition to receiving probation, substance abuse counseling, and having an entry on your criminal record.


While you can (and some people do) handle their own DUI case, the chances of a favorable outcome are much better with the help of a competent DUI attorney. As many in this field have noted, DUI law is one of the most convoluted areas of criminal law out there. Not to mention

lawmakers and the public demanding to “get tough” on offenders, thus making the situation worse each year.

Because of the complexity of DUI laws, and the harsh penalties applied to those who break them, hiring a good defense attorney to help only makes sense (and is a good financial investment). Here are a few reasons why:

Representation – During many parts of your case, like at your Driver License Division Hearing, your attorney can provide representation on your behalf. Having a DUI lawyer present can be a huge asset – as they can quickly recognize holes in the evidence and request additional information (which may improve your case).

A skilled DUI attorney can also ensure you don’t say or do anything at the hearing to further incriminate yourself. This is especially important if you do not fully understand the terminology or processes involved in the hearing.

Beyond the hearing, your attorney will (of course) continue to provide support as your case moves along. In many instances, your lawyer can represent you at certain proceedings (hearings, conferences, etc.) thereby saving you the time and trouble of having to go yourself.

Influence – Ever hear the saying that certain victims were “easy targets?” The same theory often holds true in DUI trials. If the accused does not have legal representation, prosecutors may see them as an “easy win” and be less inclined to offer a favorable settlement.

On the other hand, having an attorney in your corner helps to keep the prosecution honest. They know you’re not just going to roll over and play dead – but instead – fight the charges to the best of your ability. Couple this with the often-encountered backlog of DUI cases they have to manage, and prosecutors are more likely to offer a fair settlement. Doing so saves time and energy and helps to get more cases “off the books” for the state.

Guidance – It goes without saying that trying to manage your own case (without prior legal experience) can be an uphill battle. The processes, procedures and paperwork are enough to make anyone’s head spin – much less those with no formal training.

Having a Utah DUI attorney on your side can make the entire process less stressful and more productive. Ideally, active participation by both the client and the lawyer provides for the best outcomes (don’t expect to just sit back and do nothing). However, it’s nice to know that a qualified expert is available to handle the technical aspects of the case and provide guidance as needed.


The answer here is relatively simple – as soon as possible. The earlier in the process the better. Why? Because the more time you give your attorney to build your case the stronger it will be.

At minimum, you should have legal counsel secured before attending your driver license hearing. Your lawyer will have the opportunity to investigate your arrest (view police reports, survey the scene, ask questions) before facing the hearing officer. If significant issues are found, they can be presented at the hearing and possibly reduce or eliminate your punishment.

Additionally, getting an attorney on board early can strengthen the negotiation phase. Most prosecutors want to settle cases quickly and having someone that “speaks their language” can expedite the process.

DUI lawyers also know what questions to ask in regards to the charges themselves. Was there probable cause for the arrest? How were the chemical tests performed? Were those in charge qualified to administer the tests? How was the evidence handled? These answers are important information and can often serve to aid in your defense.

Should your case happen to go to trial, an attorney will be able to guide you through the maze that is the state legal system. They understand what evidence needs to be requested (chemical testing reports, equipment maintenance logs, etc.) and, likewise, what facts or testimony should be avoided (incriminating statements, actions or past histories).

This knowledge can prove invaluable during trial and often makes the difference between a favorable outcome and a worst-case scenario.

However, these benefits all depend on getting your attorney on board as early as possible. Many drivers who wait too long are shocked to learn that there’s little that can be done to help them. While those who ask right away are often pleasantly surprised with their final outcome.


Now that you know what an attorney can do to help, the next step is finding one that’s a good fit (both for you and your case). While there are many options to choose from, the easiest way to decide often boils down to asking the right questions. The answers to which should make you feel comfortable and confident that you’ve made the right selection.

What kind of experience do you have in DUI? – It’s true that there are a number of great attorneys out there, but not all have the experience necessary to manage DUI cases. This complex area of law requires specialized training and a unique skill set in order to prevail.

How many years have you been in practice? – Look for a seasoned track record of success over the course of many years of DUI litigation.

Have you handled cases similar to mine? What were the outcomes? – Ask your attorney if they’ve handled cases with similar circumstances. Tell them to give specifics. Be sure to ask about the outcomes as well. Did they win? How often? What went well and what didn’t? Have them explain the commonalities between those cases and your own.

Will I be working directly with you? Or someone else? – Clients are often surprised to learn that the attorney they consult with is not the same one who handles their case. Many firms have senior attorneys meet with prospects but then hand them off to less experienced junior attorneys to actually manage the case.

Be sure you understand who you will be dealing with, how you will communicate and when you will be updated.

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of my case? – An experienced Utah DUI lawyer should be able to tell fairly quickly whether or not you have a case. After telling your story, ask the lawyer to describe what they see as the strongest and weakest parts of your defense.

If you’re not satisfied with the answers that are given, and you don’t feel confident in the attorney’s abilities, then it may be time to look elsewhere.

How do you typically handle these types of cases? – Ask them to give you a walk-through. What happens first? Where do we go from there? How will it look in the end? Choosing a DUI attorney can be a big investment in both time and money. Make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Although you want to hire a DUI attorney as soon as possible, don’t be afraid to shop around and find the right fit. Doing your research up-front will make for a more enjoyable experience and hopefully a better outcome.


If you need help with your Utah DUI case, contacting the firm of Kelly Cardon & Associates is a smart choice. Our team is available 24/7 to assist you in your time of need and provide the straight answers that you’re looking for. We serve the entire Salt Lake City area as well as all of Northern Utah and are happy to provide you with an honest assessment of your case.

We’ve been practicing criminal defense since 1987 with a major focus on DUI litigation. We’ve watched the Utah State Legislature continue to amend the rules and regulations regarding drunk driving and have kept pace every step of the way by providing expert legal counsel and top-notch defense strategies to our clients.

The DUI attorneys at Kelly Cardon & Associates have intimate knowledge of DUI law and can turn what may seem like an impossible situation into a positive outcome. With over 30 years of experience in handling DUI crimes, we’ve seen just about everything and understand what it takes to win in tough cases.

We have a long history of helping our clients in their most difficult times and are glad to do the same for you. Our entire staff of professionals are here to serve you and will compassionately guide you through every step of the process.

Best of all, we offer free, no obligation consultations to discuss your case so you’ll always know where you stand. If you have a claim, we can help you get the maximum compensation you and your family deserve. Stop worrying and wondering and get the answers you need now.

Call us today at 801-328-1110 in Salt Lake City or 801-627-1110 for Northern Utah. There’s too much at stake to risk waiting, so contact us today and get started.

Start Here

Contact us today to begin your free case analysis.

If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t wait, contact us now to discuss your case.

Call or click 24/7 and someone will help you. Northern Utah: 801-627-1110 or Salt Lake Area: 801-328-1110

Start Here


Does a DUI mean I automatically lose my license?

No, it doesn’t. However, you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to file for your Driver License Hearing. If you fail to make an appointment – or do not show up to your hearing – your license will be automatically suspended for the full 120 days.

Can I still drive after my arrest?

In most cases, yes. You should receive a temporary license if yours is confiscated at the scene of the arrest. This temporary card allows you to drive for 30 days or until your civil or criminal case is resolved. Depending on the outcome of your Driver License Hearing, your right to drive may be revoked on or before the day your 30-day permit expires.

What about “work” permits?

Utah does not allow for restricted licenses for work or school. If you’re caught driving after your license is suspended, you will face additional fines and penalties.

Do I have to submit to a Field Sobriety Test?

This can be a confusing area for many drivers. Under Utah’s “implied consent” law, having a driver’s license means you consent to take chemical tests upon request. However, there’s more to the story.

A driver DOES NOT have to submit to chemical testing while under initial investigation. However, failing to do so may cause more trouble later on. Police normally use chemical testing as evidence to justify probable cause for an arrest. Without these results, there may or may not be enough data to continue the investigation.

That being said, if there is more probable cause present (strong smell of alcohol, erratic driving, slurred speech, etc.) you can still be arrested anyway. Once under arrest, you MUST submit to chemical testing, and, depending on the results, your punishment may be much worse for initially refusing.

Even if you are arrested, it’s best to say as little as possible regarding your situation. You may end up incriminating yourself and further jeopardizing your case. Your best bet is to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

What if I have an Out of State License?

Although the State of Utah can’t suspend your non-resident license, they do participate in the Interstate Compact for Driver’s Licenses. This means that the outcome of your case in Utah can and will be reported to your home state as well. So while your Utah driving privileges will certainly be suspended, your home state of residence may take additional action as well.

This is why it’s so important to work with a local DUI attorney who understands Utah state laws and can help resolve your case before it snowballs out of control.

What’s the best way to save my license?

There are a number of things you can do to help yourself, but probably the most important is to contact a good DUI attorney. One that has experience in this complex area of law, the resources necessary to win your case and a strong track record of success.

In Salt Lake City or Northern Utah, call Kelly Cardon & Associates. We’ll plan a custom strategy to save your license and minimize the damage from your arrest. We’re available 24/7 and offer free, no-obligation consultations.

Call us anytime at 801-328-1110 in Salt Lake City or 801-627-1110 for Northern Utah and we’ll be happy to assist.

Start Here

Contact us today to begin your free case analysis.

If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t wait, contact us now to discuss your case.

Call or click 24/7 and someone will help you. Northern Utah: 801-627-1110 or Salt Lake Area: 801-328-1110

Start Here