Utah's Drugged Driving Laws

What is considered drugged driving and what are the penalties if you are convicted?

Utah not only prohibits drunk driving but also driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) of drugs. The penalties for a drug DUI are generally the same as those for an alcohol-related offense.

This article discusses how Utah defines drugged driving and the consequences of a violation.

Drugged Driving Defined

Drug DUIs based on impairment. A Utah motorist can be convicted of a drug DUI for driving or being in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while under the influence of any drug. For purposes of the state's DUI laws, under the influence means being impaired to a degree that you are incapable of safely operating a vehicle.

Per se drug DUIs. In Utah, it's also illegal to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle with a measurable amount of a controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in your system that was ingested illegally. Having a measurable amount of a controlled substance or metabolite in your system is a type of "per se" DUI—meaning, you can be convicted without proof of actual impairment.

Drug DUI defenses. A motorist can establish a defense to a per se DUI charge by showing the drug was involuntarily ingested, he or she had a prescription for the substance, he or she had a medical marijuana prescription, or that the substance was otherwise ingested legally. However, these defenses don't apply to drug DUIs based on impairment.

Drugged Driving Penalties

The consequences of a Utah drugged driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, a DUI carries the following possible penalties:

  • First offense. A first DUI conviction is generally a class B misdemeanor and carries up to six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 in fines (plus fees), and a 120-day license suspension.
  • Second offense. A second DUI is generally a class B misdemeanor and carries up to six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 in fines (plus fees), and a two-year license revocation.
  • Third offense. Generally, a third DUI within ten years is a third-degree felony and carries up to five years in jail, a maximum $5,000 in fines (plus fees), and a two-year license revocation.

Mandatory minimum fines and jail terms can apply for offenses involving impairment, multiple controlled substances, or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05% and a controlled substance. It's also possible for a judge to reduce some of the penalties by ordering the offender to participate in the state's 24/7 sobriety program.

Getting Legal Help

Utah DUI law is complex, and the facts of every case are different. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, talk to an experienced DUI attorney in your area. A qualified DUI lawyer can tell you how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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