What is the Difference Between Reckless Driving and DUI in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Reckless driving and driving under the influence (DUI) are two traffic offenses that can cause you serious problems in Utah. Each offense will likely have a serious impact on your driving record and possibly even your professional life. It is important to note that reckless driving is a more severe offense than DUI. If you or a family member was arrested for reckless driving or DUI, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI lawyer. Darwin Overson is prepared to help you fight against traffic offenses. Overson Law explains the difference between reckless driving and DUI in Utah. Call today at (801) 515-0883.

Reckless Driving vs. DUI Laws

Utah has separate statutes discussing reckless driving and driving under the influence. Some of the elements required to prove a driver was guilty of either offense will often overlap. However, reckless driving does have some distinctions that separate it from DUI.

You may commit a reckless driving offense if you drive your vehicle in a manner that “willfully” or “wantonly” endangers the lives of other motorists or pedestrians, or in a way that risks damaging property. For example, if you operate your vehicle at 110 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood while children are visibly playing outside, you are likely driving recklessly.

Alternatively, you can also commit reckless driving if you violate three or more traffic laws in close succession. This option requires that these violations are “moving violations,” and that they are committed within a “single continuous period of driving” that spans no more than three miles.

A person commits a DUI offense if they are driving a vehicle or has the power to operate a vehicle while they are intoxicated due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Under Utah law, you can be arrested for DUI even if you are not driving a car. For example, if you fall asleep inside a car while you are drunk, and you have the car keys in your possession, law enforcement may surmise that you have “actual physical control” of the car and arrest you.

Utah has recently lowered the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit required to violate DUI laws. To be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, you must now have a BAC of .05 grams or greater when you are chemically tested. This new standard also applies to cases where a person was not driving but had control of the vehicle. If you are arrested for using drugs while driving, it was because the arresting officer believed that the drug substantially affected your driving ability.

Reckless driving is different than a DUI offense primarily because the former combines various offenses to create one traffic offense. The three or more offenses that an offender commits to commit reckless driving may also play a role in determining the penalty they receive for reckless driving. The penalties for DUI will only vary depending on a driver’s previous traffic offenses.

To learn more about reckless driving and DUI, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for Reckless Driving and Driving Under the Influence

The penalties for reckless driving and driving under the influence will depend on the grade of offense the defendant is charged with. Reckless driving and DUI are typically charged as class B misdemeanors.

In Utah, class B misdemeanors have a penalty of up to six months in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. Utah’s Driver License Division may also suspend your license for up to three months for the first offense of reckless driving. Subsequent offenses for reckless driving will result in an automatic driver’s license suspension.

Under some circumstances, a DUI offense can be upgraded from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor. For example, if an under the influence driver caused a person bodily injury while driving, they may receive a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

Utah also has a point system for moving traffic violations. If a driver accumulates more than 200 points in three years, they will likely have their license suspended. This number is lower if the driver is under the age of 21. If your reckless driving offense involved multiple smaller offenses, they may count as individual offenses as well as reckless driving, which can mean accumulating a high number of points very quickly.

There are other penalties not listed here that may arise out of a reckless driving or DUI offense, which you should discuss with a lawyer.

Work with Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys on Your Case

If you or a family member was arrested for reckless driving, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Overson Law can help you explore options to handle your reckless driving or DUI case. To schedule your free legal consultation, call us at (801) 515-0883 or contact us online.

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