Although not required for a conviction, the key evidence in a DUI (driving under the influence) prosecution is often the measurement of drugs or alcohol in the suspect's body. Depending on the situation, police might use a blood, breath, urine, or saliva test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the amount of drugs in the suspect's system. This article gives an overview of what Utah's implied consent laws say about DUI chemical testing.
Utah's implied consent laws specify that any person who operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to chemical testing. The specific test might be a breath, blood, urine, or oral fluid test. However, police must lawfully arrest a driver and inform the driver of certain rights prior to requesting a chemical test. The officer gets to choose which test or tests the driver must take.
Generally, motorists who don't immediately comply with an officer's request to take a chemical test are considered to have refused testing. Unlawful refusal will result in license suspension and possible criminal sanctions.
After a driver refuses a chemical test, the officer is supposed to send notice of the refusal to the Utah Driver License Division. The division will revoke the driver's license for 18 months (36 months if the driver has any DUI or refusal suspensions within the last ten years).
Drivers who are younger than 21 years old face a two-year revocation (36 months if the driver has any prior DUI or refusal suspensions within the last ten years). However, these underage drivers who refuse to test generally can't reinstate their licenses until turning 21 years old.
A driver subject to license revocation can request an administrative hearing to dispute the revocation within ten days of the revocation notice. Also, in some situations, a driver can obtain a limited work license after completing one year of the revocation.
Drivers who refuse chemical testing will also be deemed "interlock restricted drivers" for three years. Generally, this designation prohibits the operation of any vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock device (IID).
The fact that a driver refused to submit to testing can be used against the driver during a DUI criminal trial. While refusal doesn't exactly prove intoxication, prosecutors often argue a refusal is indicative that the person was trying to hide intoxication.
Generally, a driver can't be charged with a crime for refusing to take a DUI blood test. However, if police obtain a warrant from a court, the driver is required to submit to blood testing. And, refusing to take a blood test in violation of the court warrant is a crime in Utah.
A criminal refusal is generally a class B misdemeanor but will be a third-degree felony if the offender has two prior DUIs or refusals within the last ten years or a prior felony DUI conviction. In addition to the penalties that would normally be imposed for a DUI conviction, a criminal blood test refusal carries a number of other consequences. These additional consequences include a $100 fine, 24 hours in jail, and possibly an IID requirement during probation, ankle transdermal monitoring, and house arrest with electronic monitoring.
A criminal refusal will also designate the offender as an "alcohol restricted driver" (ARD). An ARD is not allowed to drive with any amount of alcohol in his or her system. A misdemeanor refusal will result in a five-year ARD designation and a felony refusal results in a ten-year ARD designation. An ARD violation is a class B misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor refusal conviction will also result in an additional 18-month interlock restricted driver designation (three years if under 21). A felony refusal results in a six-year interlock restricted driver designation.
If your license has been seized or revoked for refusing a chemical test in Utah, it's a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer. License revocations must be appealed promptly to dispute and a qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best course of action.