Driving while intoxicated poses a serious risk to public
safety in Utah. To combat this hazard, the state implements strict laws
intended to punish drivers who take to the state’s roadways after drinking
alcohol or using drugs.
Drivers who want to avoid this serious criminal charge need
to understand what constitutes driving under the influence in Utah. They also
need to appreciate the legal penalties that can go along with being convicted
of a DUI in this state.
DUI in Utah
Like many other states, Utah uses the acronym of DUI to
denote driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.
It uses the same per se limit found in most other states. The level at which a
driver can be arrested for DUI in Utah is 0.08 percent or higher.
However, this per se limit only applies to motorists who are
21 years and older and driving personally owned vehicles like cars, trucks and
motorcycles. Holders of commercial drivers’ licenses or CDLs have a lower BAC
limit in Utah at 0.04 percent. They can be arrested for DUI and face
punishments like losing their commercial driving privileges for a year or
Underage drivers in Utah are also held accountable if they
drive under the influence. The “not-a-drop” law in Utah forbids drivers under
the age of 21 from driving with any detectable alcohol or drugs in their
systems. They too can face severe legal penalties for DUI including serving
time in jail.
Utah is also one of several states that permits people to be
charged with DUI even if they are not actually driving a motor vehicle. They
must be found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle to be charged with
a DUI if they are at or above the legal BAC limit.
Actual physical control of a vehicle includes being found in
the driver’s seat of a car while over the legal BAC limit. It also includes
having the key in the ignition or touching the steering wheel or other
operating controls while under the influence. The DUI charge applies even if
the driver is asleep or passed out in the vehicle.
DUI Penalties in Utah
Utah dispenses a number of legal penalties to punish drivers
found guilty of DUI. A first-time DUI conviction in Utah can lead to a maximum
jail sentence of 180 days. The minimum amount of time that needs to be served
is 48 hours in jail or 48 hours of community service.
The first-time conviction also results in a fine of at least
$1310, a license suspension of 120 days and use of an ignition interlock device
or IID for one year if the BAC was 0.16 or higher at the time of the person’s
arrest. The judge has the option of ordering IID use for lower BACs as well.
A second DUI conviction in Utah results in:
maximum jail term of 180 days
minimum jail sentence of 10 days or five days in jail with 30 hours of
- A fine
of at least $1560
revoked license for two years
years’ use of an IID if the second conviction occurred within 10 years
A third DUI conviction in Utah results in:
maximum of five years in prison
mandatory 62 days in jail in lieu of prison time
- A fine
of at least $2850
revoked license for two years
years’ use of an IID if the last DUI conviction occurred within 10 years
First through third DUI offenses in Utah result in Class B
misdemeanor charges. A DUI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor and carries
harsher penalties if the driver inflicted bodily harm on another person during
the offense, had a passenger under the age of 16 in the car, or is over the age
of 21 and had a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle at the time of his
or her arrest.
A class A misdemeanor carries with it an additional penalty
of one year in jail and a fine of $2500. A class B misdemeanor includes
penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.
A DUI will be charged as a third degree felony if the driver
inflicts bodily harm on someone else, has two or more prior DUI convictions in
the last 10 years, or is convicted of automobile homicide. A third degree is
punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5000.
Implied Consent in Utah
Under the state’s implied consent laws, motorists must
provide breath, blood or urine samples after they are arrested for DUI. If they
refuse, they can be required to provide the sample if law enforcement obtains a
They can also face additional charges for refusing to comply
under the state’s implied consent laws. A first refusal results in a license
revocation of 18 months. A second and third refusal results in the driver’s
license being revoked for three years.
Utah relies on its DUI laws to prohibit drivers from taking
to the roadways after drinking alcohol or using drugs. The DUI laws in the
state allow drivers of all ages to be penalized with fines, jail time and
license suspensions or revocations. Drivers are obligated to comply with chemical
testing for DUI under the state’s implied consent laws.