DUI Laws in Utah

This article provides a comprehensive overview of DUI laws in Utah, including definitions, penalties, legal procedures, and resources for those affected by DUI charges.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Utah, carrying significant legal consequences. This article provides a comprehensive overview of DUI laws in Utah, including definitions, penalties, legal procedures, and resources for those affected by DUI charges. The information is based on legitimate sources such as government websites and official legal documents.

Definition of DUI in Utah

In Utah, DUI is defined under Utah Code § 41-6a-502. According to this statute, a person is guilty of DUI if they operate or are in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% or higher.
  • Under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combination of both, to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle.
  • Having any measurable controlled substance or metabolite in the person's body.

Utah Code § 41-6a-502

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

Utah has one of the strictest BAC limits in the United States. The legal BAC limit for drivers over the age of 21 is 0.05%. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, Utah follows a zero-tolerance policy, meaning any detectable alcohol in the system can result in a DUI charge.

Controlled Substances

Utah law also addresses driving under the influence of controlled substances. This includes illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs that impair a person's ability to drive safely. The presence of any measurable controlled substance or its metabolite in the body can result in a DUI charge.

Penalties for DUI in Utah

First Offense

A first-time DUI offense in Utah is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for a first offense can include:

  • A minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail or 48 hours of community service.
  • A fine of at least $1,310.
  • A 120-day suspension of the driver's license.
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug screening and assessment program.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for 18 months if the BAC was 0.16% or higher.

Second Offense

A second DUI offense within ten years of the first offense is also classified as a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for a second offense can include:

  • A minimum of 240 consecutive hours in jail or 240 hours of community service.
  • A fine of at least $1,560.
  • A two-year suspension of the driver's license.
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug screening and assessment program.
  • Installation of an IID for three years.

Third Offense

A third DUI offense within ten years is classified as a third-degree felony. The penalties for a third offense can include:

  • A minimum of 1,500 hours in jail or up to five years in prison.
  • A fine of at least $2,850.
  • A three-year suspension of the driver's license.
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug screening and assessment program.
  • Installation of an IID for three years.

Aggravated DUI

An aggravated DUI charge can be filed if certain aggravating factors are present, such as causing bodily injury to another person, having a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle, or having a BAC of 0.16% or higher. Aggravated DUI is classified as a third-degree felony, with penalties including:

  • A minimum of 1,500 hours in jail or up to five years in prison.
  • A fine of at least $2,850.
  • A three-year suspension of the driver's license.
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug screening and assessment program.
  • Installation of an IID for three years.

Arrest and Booking

When a person is suspected of DUI, they may be subjected to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. If the officer has probable cause to believe the person is under the influence, they will be arrested and taken to a police station for booking. During booking, the person's fingerprints and photographs are taken, and they may be required to submit to additional chemical tests.

Arraignment

The arraignment is the first court appearance for a person charged with DUI. During the arraignment, the charges are formally read, and the defendant is asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will proceed to pre-trial hearings and potentially a trial.

Pre-Trial Hearings

Pre-trial hearings are conducted to address various legal issues before the trial begins. These hearings may involve motions to suppress evidence, plea negotiations, and discussions about potential defenses. The goal of pre-trial hearings is to resolve as many issues as possible before the trial.

Trial

If the case goes to trial, both the prosecution and defense will present evidence and call witnesses to testify. The judge or jury will then determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the DUI charges. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the severity of the offense and any aggravating factors.

Sentencing

Sentencing occurs after a guilty verdict or a plea of guilty or no contest. The judge will consider various factors, including the defendant's criminal history, the circumstances of the offense, and any mitigating or aggravating factors. The judge will then impose penalties such as jail time, fines, license suspension, and participation in treatment programs.

Administrative Penalties

Driver's License Suspension

In addition to criminal penalties, a DUI conviction in Utah results in administrative penalties imposed by the Utah Driver License Division (DLD). These penalties include the suspension or revocation of the driver's license. The length of the suspension depends on the number of prior DUI offenses and the circumstances of the current offense.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

An IID is a device installed in a vehicle that requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the engine can start. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. Utah law requires the installation of an IID for certain DUI offenders, particularly those with high BAC levels or multiple offenses.

Alcohol and Drug Education Programs

DUI offenders in Utah are often required to participate in alcohol and drug education programs. These programs aim to educate offenders about the dangers of impaired driving and provide tools for making better decisions in the future. Completion of these programs is often a condition for reinstating a suspended driver's license.

DUI and Minors

Zero Tolerance Policy

Utah has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. This means that any detectable amount of alcohol in the system of a minor driver can result in a DUI charge. The penalties for underage DUI include:

  • A six-month suspension of the driver's license.
  • Participation in an alcohol education program.
  • Possible community service and fines.

Juvenile Court

DUI cases involving minors are typically handled in juvenile court. The juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, and the penalties for underage DUI may include counseling, probation, and participation in educational programs.

DUI and Commercial Drivers

Lower BAC Limit

Commercial drivers in Utah are subject to a lower BAC limit of 0.04%. This stricter limit reflects the increased responsibility and potential danger associated with operating commercial vehicles. A DUI conviction for a commercial driver can result in:

  • A one-year suspension of the commercial driver's license (CDL) for a first offense.
  • A lifetime disqualification of the CDL for a second offense.

Impact on Employment

A DUI conviction can have severe consequences for commercial drivers, including job loss and difficulty finding future employment. Many employers have strict policies against hiring individuals with DUI convictions, particularly for positions that involve driving.

DUI and Drugs

Drugged Driving Laws

Utah's DUI laws also cover driving under the influence of drugs, including illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications that impair driving ability. The presence of any measurable controlled substance or its metabolite in the driver's body can result in a DUI charge.

Penalties for Drugged Driving

The penalties for drugged driving are similar to those for alcohol-related DUI offenses. They can include jail time, fines, license suspension, and participation in drug education or treatment programs.

Medical Marijuana

While medical marijuana is legal in Utah, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. A medical marijuana card does not provide a defense against a DUI charge if the driver is impaired.

Challenging the Traffic Stop

One common defense in DUI cases is challenging the legality of the traffic stop. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, any evidence obtained during the stop may be inadmissible in court.

Questioning the Accuracy of Chemical Tests

Chemical tests, such as breathalyzer and blood tests, are not infallible. Defense attorneys may challenge the accuracy of these tests by questioning the calibration of the equipment, the qualifications of the person administering the test, or the procedures used to collect and analyze the sample.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are subjective and can be influenced by various factors, such as the driver's physical condition, weather conditions, and the officer's instructions. Defense attorneys may argue that the results of these tests are unreliable and should not be used as evidence.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can mimic the signs of intoxication, such as diabetes, neurological disorders, and fatigue. A defense attorney may present evidence of a medical condition to explain the driver's behavior and challenge the DUI charge.

Resources for DUI Offenders

Utah Driver License Division (DLD)

The Utah Driver License Division provides information and resources for individuals facing DUI charges, including details on license suspension, ignition interlock devices, and reinstatement procedures.

Utah Driver License Division - DUI

Utah Courts

The Utah Courts website offers information on the legal process for DUI cases, including court procedures, forms, and resources for finding legal representation.

Utah Courts - DUI

Utah Department of Public Safety

The Utah Department of Public Safety provides information on DUI laws, penalties, and prevention programs.

Utah Department of Public Safety - DUI

Alcohol and Drug Education Programs

Various organizations in Utah offer alcohol and drug education programs for DUI offenders. These programs aim to educate individuals about the dangers of impaired driving and provide tools for making better decisions in the future.

Conclusion

DUI laws in Utah are stringent and carry significant penalties for those convicted. Understanding the legal definitions, penalties, and procedures can help individuals navigate the complexities of DUI charges. It is crucial to seek legal representation and utilize available resources to ensure the best possible outcome in a DUI case. For more information, refer to the official links provided throughout this article.

This article provides a detailed overview of DUI laws in Utah, focusing on legitimate sources and official legal documents. It aims to improve access to justice by offering clear and comprehensive information on this important topic.

About the author
Counsel Stack

Counsel Stack

Helpful legal information and resources

Counsel Stack Learn

Free and helpful legal information

Counsel Stack Learn

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Counsel Stack Learn.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.