Can You Go to Jail for Driving While on Prescription Drugs in Utah?
Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs is dangerous for you and other motorists sharing the road with you. It is also a traffic violation that may land you in jail. The circumstances of this offense will also dictate the severity of the penalties you may receive. For example, driving while affected by prescription drugs and injuring someone will increase the severity of the offense. If you or a family member was arrested for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI lawyer. Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson is prepared to help you fight your prescription drug charges. Overson Law, PLLC is here to explain if you can go to jail for driving while on prescription drugs in Utah.
Drugged Driving Laws in Utah
Utah’s Traffic Code § 41-6a-502 states that it is illegal to “operate or be in actual physical control” of a vehicle if you are under the influence of prescription drugs. This law also states that the drugs must make the driver “incapable of safely operating a vehicle.” Mixing a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol is another actionable offense in Utah.
Successfully convicting a person of driving under the influence of prescription drugs can be a complicated and sometimes unfair process. While there are reliable methods for detecting a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), it is difficult to determine if a driver’s actions were affected by drugs. This is because prescription drugs may remain in a person’s bloodstream for a significant amount of time. Unlike Utah’s .08 BAC limit (which lowers to .05 in December 2018), there is no identifiable limit to show that a certain amount of oxycodone will render a driver incapable of operating a vehicle.
Even though a blood test can demonstrate that there were drugs in the driver’s system, the test cannot state whether the driver was impaired or how the drugs affected their driving. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced DUI defense lawyer who is prepared to argue that the prosecution needs to introduce more evidence than a simple chemical test.
Drivers in Utah should also know that there is an implied consent statute. This statute does not allow a driver to refuse a chemical test if they are driving within the State of Utah, but police do still need a search warrant to draw your blood for testing.
Penalties for Violating Utah Drug DUI Laws
The penalties for violating Utah’s DUI laws depend on the unique facts of each case. A first-time offense for driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors carry a possible jail term of up to six months in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines. Therefore, it is possible to be placed in jail for driving under the influence of prescription drugs. This is why it is important to retain an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer to help with your case.
There are also more serious penalties for driving on prescription drugs. If a driver committed any of the following offenses while under the influence of prescription drugs they may face a class A misdemeanor:
- Caused another person “bodily injury”
- Was driving with a passenger who was under the age of 16
- Was 21 or older than 21 and had a passenger who was under the age of 18
In Utah, class A misdemeanors carry a maximum jail sentence of one year and fines of up to $2,500. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs can also be a third degree felony if the driver causes someone to suffer “serious bodily injury.” Third degree felonies have a maximum prison sentence of five years and up to $5,000 in criminal fines. DUI violations may also result in a license suspension.
If your DUI offense is a class B or C misdemeanor, you have the option of performing compensatory service to avoid paying the possible fines. Every hour of compensatory service equals $10. Compensatory service may be performed for nonprofit organizations, state or local government agencies, or other organizations approved by a Utah court.
Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Here to Fight Your Prescription Drug Offense
If you or a family member was charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. A DUI offense for prescription drugs can quickly spiral out of control, and the circumstances of your case could turn a misdemeanor into a felony. However, Darwin Overson is here to help you pursue a desirable legal outcome. With over 16 years of criminal law experience, Darwin will tirelessly fight on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation for your case, call us at (801) 758-2287 or reach us online.