Can You Go to Jail for a First DUI in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Many states have a lenient approach when it comes to an offense for driving under the influence, Utah is not one of those states. It is possible to receive jail time for a first DUI offense in Utah. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible to avoid jail after your first DUI arrest. If you or a family member was arrested for driving under the influence, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer. With over 16 years of criminal law experience, Darwin Overson is here to represent you. Darwin will fight to help you pursue a desirable outcome in your DUI case. To schedule a free legal consultation with Overson Law, call our law offices today.

Utah’s Driving Under the Influence Laws

Utah’s DUI statute explains what is necessary to be arrested for intoxicated driving. You can be arrested for DUI if you are driving after consuming too much alcohol or if you are behind the wheel after taking drugs that may alter your ability to drive. You can also be arrested for DUI if you are drunk or high inside a parked car but have the ability to start the car and drive away at any time. Utah refers to this as having “actual physical control” of a vehicle.

It is important to note that as of December 30, 2018, Utah’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drunk driving will be reduced to .05 grams or higher from .08 grams or higher. This means the amount of alcohol you can consume before being over the legal limit is decreased.

To determine whether you are over the legal limit, law enforcement will likely administer a chemical test. Refusing to take a chemical test can result in additional penalties and automatic license suspension. If you drive on Utah roads, it is assumed that you have consented to chemical testing for intoxication. Refusing a breathalyzer or blood test makes it harder to fight crime, so there is an additional penalty for violating the previous consent and making DUI investigation harder.

Additionally, law enforcement can arrest you if they believe that drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both has impaired your ability to operate the car safely, regardless of what your BAC is.

To learn more about DUI laws in Utah, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense

The circumstances of your DUI offense will determine the penalties you will receive if you are convicted for the offense. In Utah, a first-time DUI offender will typically only be found guilty of a class B misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are offenses that are lower than felonies and are usually punished by a jail term and a criminal fine. There are three categories of misdemeanors that you can be found guilty of: class C misdemeanors, class B misdemeanors, and class A misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors carry the lowest penalties and class A misdemeanors carry the highest penalties.

The penalties for a class B misdemeanor include a maximum jail term of six months and up to $1,000 in criminal fines. Therefore, if you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you may receive these penalties. However, you can also be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor under certain circumstances:

  • You injured someone while driving drunk or caused an event that injured someone.
  • You were driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 16.
  • You were 21 years of age or older, and you were driving while intoxicated with a passenger that was under the age of 18.

If you committed any of these actions while driving under the influence, you might be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

First-time offenders who have committed a DUI may be able to plead for a reduced offense. For example, an offender can negotiate to reduce their DUI to an impaired driving offense if they were not previously convicted of DUI. An impaired driving offense can be achieved by negotiating with the prosecutor in your case or by completing a court-ordered probation program. If the offender is able to plead the case down to impaired driving, they can avoid jail time and criminal fines.

Additionally, “compensatory service” may be offered to first-time offenders instead of being made to pay fines. This will require an offender to complete unpaid work for a state agency or another type of organization to avoid paying a criminal fine.

Work with a Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney on Your DUI Case

If you or a family member needs assistance dealing with a DUI offense, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Darwin Overson is prepared to help you explore options in your DUI case. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact Overson Law at (801) 895-3143.