Utah DUI Laws, Fines, Penalties & Consequences

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Utah has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country. A conviction can lead to jail time, expensive fines and months or years of license suspension; it can impact a motorist's life in ways they haven't fully realized. Education, employment and the ability to obtain a professional license are all at risk when a driver is charged for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Awareness of Utah's drunk driving laws may keep an impaired driver from getting behind the wheel and ultimately save lives.

DUI Arrests in Utah

While the terms driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are used interchangeably in Utah, the official term for impaired driving is DUI, according to NOLO. A person violating Utah's DUI laws is considered incapable of safely operating a vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent or greater, or are impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination of both.

Law enforcement can make a DUI arrest even when the car isn't in motion; the driver only needs to be in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle while impaired or with a BAC level over the legal limit. To decide whether a driver is in control of a stationary vehicle, the court considers a few factors, including:

  • Whether the motorist was in the driver's seat.
  • Whether the motorist had the key in the ignition.
  • Whether the the motorist was awake or asleep.

First-Offense Penalties for Standard DUI Charges

A first offense DUI is a Class B misdemeanor in the state of Utah. However, if serious injury to another occurred; if there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle; or if the driver was 21 with a passenger under 18 at the time of the traffic stop, it's the more serious Class A misdemeanor. A first DUI carries these criminal penalties:

  • 48 consecutive hours in jail.
  • 48 hours of community service or submission to electronic home monitoring (EHM).
  • At least $1,310 in fines.
  • Completion of substance abuse screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or attendance at an education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
  • Loss of driving privileges from 90 days to two years.

Administrative penalties include:

  • 120-day driver's license suspension period. If the court dismisses criminal charges before the license suspension penalty ends, there is the possibility of immediate license reinstatement.
  • Immediate confiscation of the offender's license and issuance of a 29-day temporary citation for restricted driving privileges.

DUI offenders must request a hearing within 10 days of their arrest if they wish to contest these penalties.

Enhanced and Felony DUI Offenses

A BAC of 0.16 percent or higher carries greater penalties than a standard DUI. In this instance, the driver faces standard DUI penalties, but must also complete supervised probation, which means a probation agency will monitor their fulfillment of the penalties. The court can also require IID installation, a secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet and EHM.

A DUI becomes a third-degree felony if the driver had two prior DUI convictions within 120 months and caused serious bodily injury to another; has a prior felony DUI; or committed vehicular homicide after July 1, 2001.

A DUI becomes a third-degree felony if the driver had two prior DUI convictions within 120 months and caused serious bodily injury to another; has a prior felony DUI; or committed vehicular homicide after July 1, 2001. Penalties are:

  • Maximum five years in prison or 1,500 hours in jail. If there is no prison sentence, the convicted motorist must complete supervised probation.
  • Minimum fines of $2,850.
  • Completion of drug and alcohol screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Court may order IID installation, a SCRAM bracelet and EHM for felony drivers with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher.
  • Driver's license suspension for 90 days to two years.

Second-Offense Penalties for Standard DUI

A second offense DUI is a Class B misdemeanor that occurs within 10 years of a prior DUI. However, if serious injury to another occurred; if there was a passenger under 16 in the vehicle; or the driver was 21 with a passenger under 18 at the time of the traffic stop, it's a Class A misdemeanor. The charge carries these criminal penalties:

  • 240 hours of jail time or 720 consecutive hours of electronic home monitoring with 120 hours of jail time.
  • 48 hours of community service or submission to EHM.
  • At least $1,560 in fines.
  • Completion of drug and alcohol screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Installation of an IID.
  • License suspension of 90 days to two years.

Administrative penalties for second offense standard DUI include:

  • Driver's license revocation of two years, after which time, the driver must apply for a new license.
  • Immediate confiscation of the offender's license and issuance of a 29-day temporary citation for restricted driving privileges.

Offenders must request a hearing within 10 days of their arrest if they wish to contest these penalties.

Second-Offense Enhanced and Felony DUIs

Drivers with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher face more significant penalties than those with a standard DUI and must also complete supervised probation. In this instance, the court will require IID installation, a SCRAM bracelet and EHM.

For a second-offense felony DUI, the penalties are:

  • Maximum five years in prison or 1,500 hours in jail. If there is no prison sentence, the convicted motorist must complete supervised probation.
  • Minimum fines of $2,850.
  • Completion of drug and alcohol screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Court can order IID installation, a SCRAM bracelet and EHM for felony drivers with a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher.
  • License suspension of 90 days to two years.

Third-Offense DUI and Penalties

A third-offense DUI is a third-degree felony if the third DUI occurs within 10 years of the first two convictions. The charge carries these criminal penalties:

  • Five years in prison or 1,500 hours of jail time. In lieu of a prison sentence, the court can order supervised probation.
  • $2,850 to $5,000 in fines.
  • Completion of drug and alcohol screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Installation of an IID.
  • License suspension of 90 days to two years.
  • Drivers with a BAC of 0.16 percent require IID installation, a SCRAM bracelet and EHM.

Administrative penalties for second-offense standard DUI include:

  • Two-year license revocation. Afterward, the driver must reapply for a new driver's license.
  • Immediate confiscation of the offender's license and issuance of a 29-day temporary citation for restricted driving privileges.

Offenders must request a hearing within 10 days of their arrest if they wish to contest these penalties.

Vehicular Homicide Caused by Impairment

Utah drivers face charges of vehicular homicide if they cause another person's death while operating a vehicle impaired. This type of conviction may also require proof that the motorist acted negligently. The penalties for a vehicular homicide conviction depend on the circumstances of the incident. For a third-degree felony, the driver faces a maximum of five years in prison and $5,000. For a second-degree felony, which is typically the charge for negligence due to DUI, the offender can serve up to 15 years in prison and pay up to a maximum fine of $10,000.

Alcohol Restricted Driver Law

Drivers convicted of DUI in Utah are subject to its Alcohol Restricted Driver (ARD) law. Motorists with full driving privileges are prohibited from having any alcohol in their system when operating a vehicle. This restriction starts on the conviction date and a violation results in a one-year license suspension.

The state automatically restricts drivers under 21 from using alcohol. Other ARD restrictions include:

  • Two years for a first-offense DUI conviction.
  • Two years for alcohol-related reckless driving conviction.
  • Three years for an ARD violation conviction.
  • Three years for an IID violation conviction.
  • Five years for a first offense DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving conviction for drivers over 21 who have a passenger under 16 years in the vehicle.
  • Ten years for a second offense DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving conviction.
  • Lifetime restriction for a felony DUI or vehicular homicide conviction.

Implied Consent Law in Utah

Utah's implied consent law specifies that any person who operates a vehicle automatically gives consent to chemical testing of their blood, breath, urine or oral fluid. When arresting the driver, a law enforcement officer must lawfully inform them of their rights before requesting the test. If the driver refuses, the arresting officer sends notice of their refusal to the Utah Driver License Division, which then revokes the motorist's license for 18 to 36 months.

The penalty is longer if the driver has prior suspensions due to DUI or test refusal within the past 10 years. Offenders under 21 who refuse a chemical or breath test face a two-year license revocation and usually can't reinstate their license until after their 21st birthday.

A motorist facing license suspension can request a hearing to dispute the penalty if they do so within 10 days of receiving the notice. They can apply for a restricted license after completing one year of the suspension sentence. The court will also require drivers who refuse to take a chemical test to drive with an IID for three years.

Read More​: What Is Suspicion of DUI?

Underage DUI and Penalties

It is illegal for drivers under 21 to have any alcohol in their system, according to Overson Law of Salt Lake City. A first offense DUI results in these penalties:

  • Minimum $700 fine.
  • Completion of drug and alcohol screening.
  • Possible substance abuse treatment or education course, depending on the results of the screening.
  • Minimum 48 hours of juvenile detention, house arrest or work program participation.
  • 120-day license suspension or suspension lasting until the driver turns 21, whichever is later. The court can also shorten this sentence if the offender completes at least six months of it and fulfills other requirements.

Additionally, the court may require supervised probation as part of a driver's sentence and can order the offender to drive with an IID installed. This will occur if it is a condition of the driver's probation, the driver had a BAC of 0.16 percent or greater at the time of arrest, or the driver violated the state's Alcohol Restricted Driver law.

DUI and Penalties for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

A motorist holding a commercial driver's license (CDL) faces not only immediate consequences for driving impaired, but the license suspension sentence they receive can cost them their job, according to Lokken and Associates. A CDL driver faces arrest when their BAC is 0.04 percent or greater.

The driver must report the DUI arrest to their employer within 30 days. For the first violation, the penalty is a one-year driver's license suspension, which increases to three years if the driver was transporting hazardous materials when arrested. A second DUI for a commercial driver can result in a lifetime revocation, even if the offense occurred in a noncommercial vehicle.