Can I Possess a Firearm in My Car without a Permit in Utah?

If you own a firearm in Utah, you are likely aware of your rights when in your home. However, you might have some questions about whether you can have a gun in your car without a permit.

Our attorneys have years of experience helping gun owners understand their rights and former owners get theirs back. Utah respects gun ownership and places few restrictions on their possession. As long as you are not a “restricted person,” you can likely have a firearm in your car without a permit. Our lawyers can help determine if your rights are restricted by a past conviction and whether Utah’s constitutional carry laws apply to your circumstances. If you have been charged with illegal possession of a firearm, we can help defend your case.

Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation with our Salt Lake City firearm possession defense lawyers.

Do I Need a Concealed Firearm Permit to Keep a Gun in My Car in Utah?

As with many questions regarding gun possession rights in Utah, whether or not you can have a gun in your car legally without a permit depends on a few circumstances. That being said, Utah is a gun-owner-friendly state and has fewer limitations than some states on possession rights. In most cases, a person can legally possess a firearm in their car without a permit, as well as their home and business, according to Utah Code § 76-10-504(1). This applies whether the gun is fully loaded or unloaded.

You will want to make sure you comply with the law, though, because the penalties for possessing a firearm in your car illegally can be significant. Our  firearm possession defense attorneys can help you understand what your rights are and how to defend a case if you have been arrested. Like most laws, there are caveats that could mean you have a gun in your car illegally. The following will help you understand Utah’s gun possession rights when in your vehicle:

Possessing a Firearm in Your Car

Utah Code § 76-10-505(1)(a) details when someone is allowed to have a firearm in their vehicle legally. Unless you are a “restricted person,” discussed further below, you can have a gun in your car without a permit as long as you own the vehicle or you have the consent of the car’s legal owner.

Legal possession means your name is on the vehicle’s title. If not, the title must belong to someone who gave you permission to use the car. The fact that the car belongs to a family member or close friend might not be enough to prevent you from being arrested for illegal possession of a firearm.

For instance, if you were stopped in your sibling’s car and a gun was found, you could be charged if you did not have your sibling’s permission to use their car. If you were arrested because you could not produce evidence of ownership but had your title later, we can present it to the prosecution to see if the charges can be reduced or dropped.

What Type of Firearms You Can Possess in Your Car

While Utah law generally uses the term “firearm” when referring to possession rights in a vehicle, it is actually talking about handguns in most instances. You can legally possess handguns loaded or unloaded without a permit in your own car, but not other types of guns.

Under Utah Code § 76-10-505(3), no person is allowed to possess a loaded shotgun or standard or muzzle-loading rifle in their car. This means it is legal to have these firearms in your vehicle as long as they are unloaded.

Restricted Persons

Utah’s relaxed gun laws mean that the question of legal possession does not really turn on whether you have a permit, like in some states, but if you are a “restricted person” under Utah Code § 76-10-503. If you have been deemed a restricted person for a past crime, it is illegal to possess a firearm in your car. There are two types of restricted persons, but depending on the crime they were convicted of, someone could be classified as both at the same time.

Category I restricted persons are those who have been convicted of or are on probation or parole for a violent felony, according to Utah Code § 76-10-503(1)(a). You will also be classified as Category I if you were convicted of possessing a Schedule I or II drug, like cocaine or heroin. This will also apply to those who were a juvenile when they were convicted of a violent felony if the conviction was within the last ten years. These individuals have typically lost all rights to possess a firearm in Utah, in their car, or elsewhere.

Category II restricted persons are people who have been convicted of class A misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, with the exception of convictions for felony domestic violence, as per Utah Code § 76-10-503(1)(b). A conviction for a felony domestic violence charge will automatically place you in this category. Misdemeanor and non-violent felony convictions will land you on this list if they were committed within seven years from the completion of a prior sentence.

Many other convictions could categorize someone as a restricted person, including possessing a dangerous weapon while possessing a controlled substance. While classified as a Category II restricted person, you cannot legally have a gun in your car, with or without a permit.

Possession Rights When Exiting Your Vehicle

If you plan on taking your gun with you when you exit your vehicle, you will want to be sure you are still complying with Utah law. Assuming you are not a restricted person, whether you can carry your firearm on you will depend on your age.

For those between the ages of 18 and 20, Utah’s “open carry” laws apply. Under Utah Code § 76-10-500(3)(b), the government cannot require someone to have a permit to own and possess a firearm. If you are under 21, you can open carry an unloaded gun on your person outside your car without a permit. If you do have a valid concealed permit, you can carry your firearm loaded.

Utah is also a “constitutional carry” state for gun owners 21 or older. As per Utah Code § 76-10-500(2), the Utah State Constitution’s stance on the right to bear arms mirrors that found in the U.S. Constitution. If you are older than 21 and have not been convicted of a crime to make you a restricted person, you can carry a handgun you own outside of your vehicle without a concealed permit. The firearm can be concealed and fully loaded, and you still do not need a permit under constitutional carry rules.

Our Utah Firearm Possession Lawyers Can Help You Understand What Your Rights You Have

For a free case review, contact our Ogden firearm possession defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.