First-Offense DUI in Utah

Read about the consequences of a first-offense DUI in Utah.

In Utah, it's illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Generally, you can be convicted of DUI if you drive:

  • while "incapable of safely operating a vehicle" (impairment DUI) due to drugs or alcohol, or
  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (“per se” alcohol DUI).

Typically, a driver who’s convicted of a first DUI is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. However, a first DUI is generally a class A misdemeanor if the driver caused bodily injury to another, had a passenger under 16 years old, or was 21 years or older and had a passenger under 18 years old.

(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-501, 41-6a-502, 41-6a-503, 41-6a-517 (2017).)

Felony DUIs

Utah's felony DUI law imposes stiffer penalties for certain DUI offenses. A DUI is a third-degree felony when the offender drives under the influence:

  • having been convicted of two prior DUIs within the past 120 months (read about third-offense DUIs in Utah) and causes serious bodily injury to another, or
  • having been convicted of a prior felony DUI or automobile homicide committed after July 1, 2001.

 (Utah Code Ann §§ 41-6a-501, 41-6a-503 (2017).)

Utah's New Legal Limit: the Lowest in All 50 States

In March 2017, Utah became the first state to enact legislation lowering the legal alcohol limit from .08% to .05%. The new law takes effect on December 30, 2018.

Administrative Penalties

"Administrative penalties" are those imposed by the Utah Driver License Division (DLD). These penalties are triggered by a DUI arrest (as opposed to a conviction in court). For a first DUI, the administrative penalties include:

  • Per se alcohol and per se drug DUI. Drivers arrested for per se DUI will have their license suspended for 120 days. But if the criminal DUI charges are later dismissed before the suspension period ends, immediate license reinstatement is possible. 
  • Chemical-test refusals. Motorists who refuse a chemical test in violation of Utah’s implied consent law face an 18-month revocation of their driving privileges.  Motorists who refuse two or more times within a ten-year period face a three-year administrative license revocation. Also, a prosecutor can use a refusal as evidence of guilt in court.

At the time of your arrest, the officer will confiscate your driver license and issue a citation that serves as a temporary license for 29 days. If you don't request a hearing within 10 days of the arrest, you forfeit your right to challenge the above administrative suspensions.  

And if you are later convicted in criminal court of DUI, the DLD will suspend your license for an additional 120 days.

(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-509, 41-6a-520, 41-6a-521, 41-6a-524, 53-3-221, 53-3-222, 53-3-223 (2017).)

24/7 Sobriety Programs

Until recently, successfully challenging a suspension at your administrative hearing or obtaining a dismissal of DUI charges was the only way to shorten a license suspension. Now, Utah has a "24/7 Sobriety Program" that allows drivers to get their license back more quickly. Utah's 24-7 Sobriety Program requires you to:

If you successfully complete this program, the judge can shorten the suspension period triggered by a DUI conviction. However, because this program is still new, it isn’t yet available in all areas. 

(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-505, 41-6a-509, 41-6a-515.5 (2017).)

Criminal Penalties

Criminal penalties" are those that a court imposes once a driver is convicted of DUI. For a first DUI, the criminal penalties include:

  • Standard first DUI. Drivers convicted of a first DUI must serve either 48 consecutive hours in jail, 48 hours of community service, or submit to electronic home confinement, and pay fines and assessment of at least $1,310. Convicted motorists are also required to complete a drug/alcohol screening and assessment and substance abuse treatment if the assessment deems it necessary. If a substance abuse program is found unnecessary, the driver must still participate in a substance abuse education course. The judge may require a first DUI offender to install an ignition interlock device (IID). And a judge who’s convinced the driver is a safety hazard can order an additional 90-day to two-year license suspension.

  • First DUI with BAC of .16% or greater. Penalties are more severe for drivers with BACs of .16% or higher. In additional to the standard first DUI penalties, the driver faces a term of “supervised probation”—meaning the driver's compliance with the conditions of sentencing, terms of probation, and other court orders will be monitored by the supervising probation agency. Also, the court generally is required to order an IID, SCRAM bracelet, and/or electronic home monitoring. 
  • Felony DUI. Drivers convicted of felony DUI face up to five years in prison or 1,500 hours in jail. The fines and surcharges for felony DUI are at least $2,850. If the judge doesn’t impose a prison sentence, the driver must complete a term of supervised probation. Convicted motorist are also required to complete a drug/alcohol screening and assessment and comply with any recommended treatment. If the driver's BAC was .16% or greater, the court generally is required to order an IID, SCRAM bracelet, and/or electronic home monitoring. And a judge who’s convinced the driver is a safety hazard can order an additional 90-day to two-year license suspension.

Also, check out our article that goes into more depth about the actual costs of a first DUI.

(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-503, 41-6a-505, 41-6a-507, 41-6a-509, 41-6a-503 (2017).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, get in contact with an experienced DUI attorney. A qualified DUI attorney can help you navigate the complexities of DUI law and tell you how the law applies to the facts of your case.

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