First-Offense DUI in Utah

Possible consequences for a first-offense DUI conviction 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:

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, was 21 years or older and had a passenger under 18 years old, was traveling the wrong way on a street, or entered or exited a freeway except at designated entrances or exits.

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. Penalties are even stiffer for motorists who refuse and have already had their license suspended or revoked from a previous DUI conviction or arrest in the last ten years. These drivers face a three-year 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's 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.

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:

  • abstain from alcohol and drugs
  • submit to random drug testing
  • submit to alcohol testing twice daily at a testing facility, and
  • wear a device that continuously monitors for alcohol consumption (sometimes called a "SCRAM" bracelet).

If you successfully complete this program, the judge can shorten the suspension period triggered by a DUI conviction. The judge can also suspend the mandatory jail time upon successful completion of the program.

Criminal Penalties

"Criminal penalties" are those that a court imposes once a driver is convicted of DUI. For a first DUI, the criminal penalties depend on the BAC level, the presence of drugs, and whether the DUI can be charged as a felony. For most first offenses, the driver is looking at two days to 180 days in jail, fines of $700 to $1,000 (plus fees), and a 120-day license suspension.

But if a driver's BAC is .16% or higher, or .05% or higher in addition to any measurable controlled substance, or two or more controlled substances in the driver's body that were prescribed or legally ingested under Utah's medical marijuana law, then the following minimum mandatory penalties apply:

  • jail time of at least five days or two days jail plus house arrest for at least 30 consecutive days
  • drug and alcohol screening and assessment and comply with the recommended treatment
  • participation in a two-day DUI related education series; Fine and assessment of at least $1310
  • payment of towing, impound, and a storage fee of the vehicle used in the DUI, and/or
  • installation of ignition interlock device (IID).

The court may also require the driver to participate in a substance abuse treatment program, the 24/7 sobriety program, and "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.

In all other first offense non-felony DUIs, the mandatory minimum jail time is two days or 48 hours of community service. All the other penalties are the same.

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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