Some states treat driving under the influence (DUI) as a mere traffic violation. In Utah, drunk driving is very much a criminal offense – and if you are convicted, you could face hefty fines, months of incarceration, suspension of your driver’s license, and other serious penalties. You will also receive a criminal record, which can interfere with job opportunities. If you work in transportation or education, a DUI conviction could spell the end of your career.
Our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers discuss the consequences of an intoxicated driving conviction can be devastating, even if it’s a first offense DUI and you’ve never been arrested before. With all that’s at stake, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney fighting in your corner.
Contact A Utah DUI Attorney for a Free Consultation
Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience handling misdemeanor and felony DUI cases on behalf of adults and juveniles under the legal drinking age. Darwin will challenge the existence of probable cause for your arrest, the accuracy of the breathalyzer machine readouts, the legality of the sobriety checkpoint which stopped you, and every other detail of the case against you. You may be feeling lost and overwhelmed right now, but rest assured that Darwin will fight tooth and nail to defend your Constitutional rights and have the charges reduced or dismissed.
To set up a confidential and completely free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law right away at (801) 758-2287. Darwin handles drunk driving charges in Salt Lake County, Wasatch County, Davis County, Weber County, Summit County, Morgan County, and throughout the state of Utah.
What Happens When You Get Arrested for Drunk Driving in Utah?
A person can be arrested for DUI when he or she operates any vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08% or higher. That includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, and in rare cases, non-motorized vehicles like bicycles or even horses. The limit is only 0.04% for commercial drivers, and any amount of alcohol for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21.
Drivers can also be charged with DUI for driving while intoxicated by drugs. Because drug DUIs don’t involve alcohol, the driver’s impairment is gauged not by a BAC reading, but by specially trained “Drug Recognition Experts” (D.R.E.s) employed by the Utah Highway Patrol. There are roughly 150 D.R.E.s dispersed throughout the state at any given time.
There are a few ways a DUI arrest can occur. The driver may be stopped at a checkpoint/roadblock, or may be pulled over for erratic driving (e.g. weaving between lanes, braking for no reason). Police officers do not need a warrant to make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed. While it is technically within your rights to refuse a chemical test, refusal is generally a violation of Utah’s implied consent law, and can therefore lead to penalties like the temporary revocation of your driver’s license.
After a driver is arrested, he or she has 10 days to request a hearing by filing an application with the Utah Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division. In the meantime, the driver will receive a temporary license – but if they lose the hearing, they will also lose their driving privileges.
If the driver is charged with a misdemeanor, the first criminal court appearance is the arraignment, where the defendant enters a plea. If the driver is charged with a felony, the first appearance is called precisely that. The first appearance is followed by a preliminary hearing or “prelim,” where the court decides whether there is probable cause to proceed with the case.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence: Jail, Fines, and License Suspension
Generally speaking, drunk driving is a Class B misdemeanor. However, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, which is more serious, when the driver:
- Causes injury.
- Has a passenger 15 years old or younger.
- Is at least 21 years old and has a passenger 17 years old or younger.
Intoxicated driving becomes a third degree felony when the driver:
- Causes severe injury.
- Has two or more prior convictions of DUI or other offenses related to impaired driving.
The penalties for DUI in Utah depend on how the offense is classified, and whether the defendant has a history of prior DUI offenses. A first- or second-offense DUI may be categorized as a Class A misdemeanor or Class B misdemeanor, while a third-offense DUI within 10 years is a felony of the third degree.
Typically, the penalties for Class A and Class B misdemeanors include fines of up to $2,500 or $1,000, and jail sentences of up to one year or six months, respectively. However, the Utah DUI penalties are slightly different. These penalties, which are outlined by the DUI sentencing matrix, can include, but are not limited to, the following.
For a first or second offense (Class A or Class B misdemeanor):
- 48 hours in jail to 10 days in jail
- $1,370 to $1,560 in assorted fees and fines
- Probation (possible for first offense, definite for second offense)
- Possible ignition interlock
For a third offense (third degree felony):
- About 63 days in jail to five years in prison
- Nearly $3,000 in assorted fees and fines
- Possible ignition interlock
The license suspension can range anywhere from 120 days (four months) for a first offense to two years for second and subsequent offenses.
In some cases, it is possible to obtain alternative sentencing instead of jail time. Depending on factors like your criminal history and the nature of the offense, a skilled DUI lawyer may be able to convince the court that you should be sentenced to probation, community service, or other alternatives to incarceration.
If you, your spouse, or your daughter or son was arrested for DUI in Utah, you need an experienced criminal attorney on your side. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today.