Utah has a zero tolerance policy for drunk driving under the legal drinking age. This “not a drop” law means that if you are driving and younger than the age of 21 and register as having any measurable blood alcohol content at all, you can be convicted of driving under the influence. The minimum BAC for those older than 21 years old is .08 percent, or .04 percent for commercial drivers. Another feature of Utah’s DUI law is that you can be arrested for DUI even if you are not currently driving the car but have the potential to do so, such as if you are sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car.
If police officers have probable cause to suspect you of driving under the influence, they have the legal right to administer a chemical test of your breath, urine, saliva or blood. The choice of test is up to the police officer. Because Utah has an implied consent law, if you refuse the test, you can be subject to penalties.
The first time you refuse a BAC test, your driver’s license will be revoked for 18 months. Upon your second and subsequent refusals, you’ll suffer a three-year suspension of your license. Other penalties may also be inflicted depending on your DUI history. For example, you may be subject to a zero percent BAC minimum while driving for the next 10 years or have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for the next three years.
Penalties for DUI Convictions
For a first DUI conviction, you will serve a minimum of two days either in jail or in a work service program. You may also be subject to a minimum $700 fine and a minimum 120-day suspension of your driver’s license.
A second DUI conviction within 10 years of the first carries a 10-day minimum in jail or a work service program, a minimum $800 fine, a two-year suspension of your license and three years with an ignition interlock device.
For either a first or second DUI conviction, you may also be subject to home confinement or required to participate in substance abuse education or treatment.
Your third DUI conviction within 10 years of the first is an automatic felony. Such a conviction carries a jail sentence of at least 62 days and as many as five years. You would also be subject to a minimum fine of $1,500 and up to a three-year suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, an ignition interlock device could be installed on your vehicle for a three-year period, and you would have to undergo substance abuse treatment and education. Finally, you could be subjected to supervised probation following the completion of your jail sentence.
Proposed Changes to Utah DUI Laws
Proposals have been made to cut the legal BAC limit down from .08 percent to .05 percent. However, the limit remains at .08 percent.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Utah?
Utah law enforcement vigorously enforces impaired driving law by prosecuting people for driving under the influence (DUI). People are determined to be under the influence by means of a chemical test (usually of a person’s breath) to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
A person may be charged with DUI in Utah if a BAC is at .08 percent or higher. This is the standard applied under impaired driving laws throughout the U.S. In addition to this standard legal alcohol limit for passenger motorists of legal drinking age, additional restrictions apply to other types of drivers. These include:
- People who are under age 21 may be prosecuted on alcohol-related driving offenses with a BAC of .00 percent – in other words, with any measurable alcohol amount
- Operators of commercial vehicles – such as buses, taxis, courier vehicles, and semi-trucks – may be arrested and charged for impaired driving with a BAC of .04 percent or higher
Regardless of the type of driver, the potential penalties for impaired driving are very serious and may include fines, jail time, license suspension and mandatory attendance in alcohol education courses.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Utah
An additional penalty can be imposed on people convicted of DUI offenses; individuals may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID). This equipment requires a person to pass a breath test before a vehicle will start.
Ignition interlock device installation may be required of people who:
- Are convicted of any type of DUI conviction
- Refuse to take a chemical test if law enforcement suspects impairment
- Are involved in accidents involving the death of another person
Affected individuals must install and maintain IIDs at their own expense. The device must come from a service provider authorized by the state to install equipment.
Utah DUI Penalties
DUI Penalties in Utah can be charged through observation of erratic driving or signs of intoxication without a blood, breath or urine test even being administered. If a test is administered and a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08 percent (or over .04 percent for commercial drivers and any amount of alcohol for drivers under the age of 21), a driver will be charged with driving while over the legal limit. A DUI can also be charged for driving while impaired by a controlled substance or prescription drug.
Penalties for these two charges are similar or identical in nearly all cases. The distinction between the two charges mostly comes into play when a driver is under the age of 21 due to Utah’s “Not a Drop” zero tolerance policy for underage drivers. These drivers can get a DUI for a BAC over .0 percent.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense
For drivers over the age of 21, a first offense results in a license suspension of a minimum of 120 days and required use of an ignition interlock device for 18 months. In addition, drivers will be required to serve a minimum of 48 hours either in jail, at a work service program or under home confinement as determined by a judge. The minimum fine on a first conviction is $700.
Under Utah’s “Not a Drop” laws, the rules become more complicated (and penalties more severe) for drivers under the age of 21. Drivers aged 19 or 20 will have their licenses suspended for six months regardless of which charge is levied. Drivers under the age of 19 will have their licenses suspended for one year if convicted under the “Not a Drop” law and two years if convicted under the “per se” law. In all cases, drivers under the age of 21 will be forced to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on all vehicles that they use for a period of three years.
Penalties for a Second DUI Offense
For drivers over the age of 21, the penalties for a second DUI rise to 240 hours minimum in jail, a work service program or home confinement, a license suspension of two years and a minimum fine of $800.
Utah DUI penalties for drivers under the age of 21 do not vary for any offense other than the first. As the state mandates an ignition interlock device on drivers for a period of three years for any underage DUI conviction, it is unlikely that a defendant would accrue a second DUI before reaching the age of 21.
Penalties for a Third DUI Offense
A third DUI conviction in Utah escalates the penalties to a mandatory jail sentence of 1,500 hours minimum, a minimum fine of $1,500 and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for three years after serving jail time. A third DUI may also result in permanent license suspension at the discretion of a judge.
Penalties for a Fourth DUI Offense and Beyond
If the driver’s license has not been permanently suspended by previous DUI convictions, the penalties for a third offense carry over to subsequent offenses. Driving without a license carries additional fines and a potential one-year jail sentence.
Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Testing
Drivers over the age of 21 who refuse to submit to a chemical test will have their licenses automatically suspended for 18 months on a first offense. This rises to 36 months with all subsequent offenses.
Drivers under the age of 21 who refuse to submit to a chemical test will have their license automatically revoked until they reach the age of 21 or for a period of two years, whichever is longer.