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 longer.
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:
- A maximum jail term of 180 days
- A minimum jail sentence of 10 days or five days in jail with 30 hours of electronic monitoring
- A fine of at least $1560
- A revoked license for two years
- Two years’ use of an IID if the second conviction occurred within 10 years
A third DUI conviction in Utah results in:
- A maximum of five years in prison
- A mandatory 62 days in jail in lieu of prison time
- A fine of at least $2850
- A revoked license for two years
- Two 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 warrant.
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.