In Utah criminal cases, defendants can be charged with multiple counts of an offense. For example, the defendant in a drunk driving case might be charged with two, three, or more counts of DUI. Put simply, one “count” is equivalent to one charge. So how do multiple counts arise from a single incident, and what types of DUI charges can be filed against drivers in Utah? Salt Lake City DUI lawyer Darwin Overson answers these questions in this article.
Can One Drunk Driving Arrest Cause You to Be Charged with Multiple Counts of DUI?
The short answer to this question is yes. Recent local news articles provide multiple real-life examples.
In June 2019, the Deseret News reported on a Mapleton man charged with “two counts of DUI” – notably, due to a boating accident (which, with summer around the corner, should remind readers that Utah DUI laws apply to all motorized vehicles – not just cars). In May 2019, KSL.com reported on a Heber City man who “was initially charged with… two counts of DUI,” noting that later the charges “were dropped as part of a plea deal.” And in April 2018, FOX 13 Salt Lake City reported on a Herriman man charged with “three counts of DUI as third-degree felonies,” among other offenses.
It may seem surprising that a single arrest, in a single incident, with a single driver behind the wheel, could result in being charged with multiple counts of DUI. The explanation is that there are many different ways that DUI can be charged in Utah depending on the situation, making it essential that to have legal guidance from a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. These types of charges are discussed in the next section.
What Are Some Examples of DUI Charges in Utah?
Here are five examples of different ways you can be charged with intoxicated driving in Utah:
- DUI with Alcohol – In most states, the DUI limit is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08. However, Utah currently has the country’s strictest DUI laws regarding blood alcohol content. If your BAC is 0.05 or higher, you can be charged with drunk driving. If you are a truck driver, bus driver, or other type of commercial driver, you can be charged with a BAC of just 0.04 – and if you are below the legal drinking age of 21, any measurable quantity of alcohol can trigger a DUI charge due to Utah’s rigid “Not a Drop” laws.
- DUI with Drugs (Drugged Driving/Metabolite DUI) – Driving under the influence doesn’t always involve alcohol. If a driver is intoxicated by controlled substances, such as marijuana, Ambien, OxyContin, cocaine, or meth, he or she can be charged with “metabolite” DUI, which refers to DUI involving drugs or prescription medications. Since, unlike alcohol, the presence of these drugs cannot be detected with a breathalyzer machine or BAC measurement, the police may attempt to obtain a warrant for blood or urine testing. Even if you have a completely lawful prescription for the medication, you can still be criminally charged if you were driving while under the influence of the drug.
- DUI with Drugs and Alcohol – Some DUI cases involve a combination of alcohol and controlled substances, such as DUI with marijuana and alcohol.
- DUI with Injury – If multiple people are injured or killed in an alcohol-related crash, it can result in multiple counts being charged. As explained in Utah Code § 41-6a-503(3), “A person is guilty of a separate offense for each victim suffering… injury or serious… injury as a result of the person’s [DUI] violation… whether or not the injuries arise from the same episode of driving.”
- Impaired Driving – Impaired driving is a separate offense from DUI, but often arises in DUI cases due to the fact that it is a lesser offense with lighter penalties, making an impaired driving charge preferable to a DUI charge from the defendant’s perspective. If you are charged with DUI three times in one 10-year period, the third offense will be classified as a felony. Even though it is not a DUI, a conviction of impaired driving will still count toward this limit.
Contact a Salt Lake City DUI Defense Lawyer
If you or one of your family members has been arrested for DUI in Utah, contact a DUI defense attorney for guidance on what steps to take next. Criminal attorney Darwin Overson handles misdemeanor and felony DUI charges throughout the state of Utah, including DUI in Ogden, Layton, Lehi, Logan, Murray, Orem, Park City, Provo, Riverton, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, and West Valley City. To set up a free legal consultation, contact Overson Law online, or call 24 hours at (801) 758-2287.