Underage DUI Laws and Penalties in Utah

The consequences of drinking and driving for motorists who are younger than 21 years old.

Utah already has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation as any driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or more can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) (most states have a BAC limit of .08%). But this threshold is even lower for drivers under the age of 21. Utah drivers under the age of 21 who have any amount of measurable consumed alcohol will face fines, fees, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and substance abuse treatment requirements. This article explains the details of a violation as well as the many possible penalties.

Underage DUI Laws and What They Prohibit

A driver who's younger than 21 years old and operates a vehicle or motorboat with any amount of measurable BAC can be convicted of an underage DUI violation. A conviction counts as a prior DUI on the offender's court record (for purposes of sentencing for subsequent DUI convictions) but will generally not be on any public records.

Of course, an underage driver with a BAC of .05% or more could instead face the penalties for a standard DUI.

Penalties for Underage DUI

An officer who believes that a driver under the age of 21 has consumed alcohol will generally request that the driver take an alcohol test. The driver's choices will determine what happens next.

Test failure. If the test reveals the presence of alcohol, the officer is supposed to seize the driver's license and issue a notice of suspension. The driver's license will be suspended for six months for a first offense. A second offense will result in a two-year suspension or suspension until the driver is 21 years old (whichever is longer). The driver will also be required to complete a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment prior to license reinstatement.

Test refusal. Drivers who refuse testing face license revocation of two years for a first offense and three years for a second offense. In no case can the driver's license be reinstated prior to his or her 21st birthday. The court also has the discretion to add up to two additional years to the suspension period for "public safety" reasons. The driver can be required to complete an alcohol assessment, educational classes, community service, and substance abuse treatment prior to reinstatement.

Related penalties. At the time of arrest, the driver's vehicle will be seized and impounded. The vehicle's registration and plates are also subject to confiscation.

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