Utah DUI Law

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

#1. A criminal case brought against you by the state of Utah that is resolved in the courts.

#2. A license revocation or suspension case that will be brought against you by the Utah Driver’s License Division.

To keep your driving privleges after a DUI charge in Utah, you must prevail in a court of law and the Driver’s License Division seperately. You have ten calender days after your arrest to send the Driver’s License Division a written request for a hearing. Failure to properly request a hearing or to appear for a hearing will result in mandatory loss of driving privileges for as few as 120 days and up to 3 years.

In Utah, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more. Additionally, you can be convicted of DUI for driving while too impaired to safely operate a vehicle due to illegal drugs or LEGAL AND PRESCRIBED DRUGS. The operative words are “too impaired.” You can be just as impaired on prescribed medications as on alcohol, both are legal. Your BAC or the presence of drugs in your system is determined through chemical testing from your blood, breath or urine. The choice of which test is exclusively up to the officer. If you refuse a chemical test, you face harsher consequences on your license. However, you can be charged and convicted with a BAC lower than .08% if you’re too impaired to safely operate a vehicle. All of this is in the opinion of the officer but is subject to judicial review. Did you actually refuse? Were you too impaired to safely operate a vehicle DUE TO drugs or alcohol?

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DUI Penalties in the State of Utah

Driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated in the State of Utah is a serious crime. As such, it carries some serious penalties. In this article, we’re going to look at the specifics of those penalties and what they can cost you, in both money and freedom, if you’re caught driving drunk.

To begin with, in Utah there are two different types of DUI. First, under Utah Code 41-6a-502, it is illegal for any person to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle if:

  • They have a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher (.04 for commercial drivers and anything above .0 for driver under the age of 21); or
  • They are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol or drugs to a degree that renders that person incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.

Second, under Utah Code 41-6a-517, it is illegal for any person to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle when they have any measurable controlled substance or active or inactive metabolite of a controlled substance in their body.

In practical terms, this means that you can be charged with a DUI if:

  • Chemical testing shows a BAC level above the legal limit; or
  • You were observed driving erratically or showed other signs of obvious intoxication without a chemical test being administered; or
  • You are operating a motor vehicle after using any illegal or prescription drug and the drug or its metabolite remains in your system regardless of impairment.

The penalties for both types of DUI are the same no matter the circumstances that brought about the charges in question (with some exceptions). That being said, a DUI can range from a Class B Misdemeanor to Third Degree Felony, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions and/or extenuating circumstances.

If this is your first DUI offense in the past 10 years, you will be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor. If your DUI involved an accident where any person was injured, or if there was a child in your vehicle under 18 years of age at the time of your arrest, you will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you can expect to face the following penalties:

  • Court Imposed Fines – A first time Class B DUI conviction carries a minimum fine and fee of $1420. If the circumstances warrant, the judge has the discretion to raise the fines and fees to $1950.
  • Incarceration – There is a mandatory minimum sentence of two days in jail for a first time Class B DUI conviction. If the circumstances warrant, this sentence can be increased up to 180 days. A judge may order a defendant to perform two days of community service, 48 hours, in lieu of jail time.
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse Screening and Assessment/DUI School – A judge will order a first time offender to obtain a mandatory alcohol/DUI screening and assessment and treatment, as is appropriate.
  • Ignition Interlock Device – If your BAC was .16 or greater, the judge will order you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car. You will be required to keep this device installed for a period of 18 months. If you are under 21 years of age, the interlock device will need to be installed on any car you drive for a period of three years from the date of conviction. You will pay all fees related to the device, including rental of the device, and installation of the device on any car you drive.
  • Driver’s License Suspension – If you are over 19 years of age, a first time DUI conviction comes with a mandatory 120-day suspension of your driver’s license. If you are younger than 19, the suspension time is increased to one year.
  • Probation – A first time DUI conviction also comes with a 12-month period of probation. This means that the court will keep your case open for one year following the date of conviction. During this time, the clerk of the court will verify that you have followed all the conditions of probation, including paying your fine, performing community service, and attending alcohol/drug education classes. If your BAC was .16 or greater, the judge will place you under supervised probation and you will be required to report to a probation officer on a monthly basis. Your probation officer can require drug testing and must be informed if you plan on changing your address or are traveling out of state.
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How We Can Help

If you are facing  a DUI charge, you don’t have to fight it alone. Let the legal experts here at Kelly Cardon & Associates give you a hand. We have extensive knowledge of Utah’s DUI laws that can help you when fighting your charge. You can contact us here or call us at 801.627.1110 if you’re in Northern Utah or 801.328.1110 if you’re in the greater Salt Lake City area.