In Utah, it's illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re facing a second DUI in ten years, the penalties are stiffer than those for a first offense. Generally, you can be convicted of DUI if you drive:
- while "incapable of safely operating a vehicle" due to drugs or alcohol (impairment DUI), or
- with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (“per se” alcohol DUI).
Typically, a driver who’s convicted of a second DUI is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. However, a second 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).)
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" 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 second DUI, the administrative penalties include:
- Per se alcohol and per se drug DUI. Drivers arrested for per se DUI for a second time in ten years will have their license revoked for two years. Once the two years is up, the driver needs to apply for a new license before getting behind the wheel.
- Chemical-test refusals. Motorists who refuse a chemical test (in violation of Utah’s implied consent law) and have already had their license suspended or revoked from a previous DUI arrest or conviction within the last 10 years face a three-year license revocation. The same penalty applies to motorists who refuse a chemical test a second time. 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 ten calendar days of the arrest, you forfeit your right to challenge the above administrative revocations.
(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).)
Criminal penalties" are those that a court imposes once a driver is convicted of DUI. For a second DUI, the criminal penalties include:
- Standard second DUI. Drivers convicted of a second DUI must serve either 240 hours in jail, or 120 hours in jail in addition to 720 consecutive hours of electronic home confinement, and pay fines and assessment of at least $1,560. 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. Second DUI offenders face 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. The judge may require a second 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.
- Second DUI with BAC of .16% or greater. Penalties are more severe for drivers with BACs of .16% or higher. In addition to the penalties above, 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.
(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-502, 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.