Does Implied Consent Apply When Unconscious in a Salt Lake City DUI Case?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is an offense that should be taken very seriously. There are often misconceptions about the circumstances of how a person could be charged with a DUI. For example, some people may believe that sitting in their car until they are sober is a valid course of action to avoid a DUI. However, this could land you in trouble, as well. If you or a family member was arrested for DUI while sleeping in a vehicle, contact an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer. Overson & Bugden is dedicated to providing you with the legal defense you need to fight your case. Our firm is here to explain whether implied consent applies when a person is unconscious in their vehicle.

Utah Implied Consent Laws

Driving under the influence in Utah is a crime that can be committed in a number of ways. One way that a DUI may be committed is when a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming too much alcohol. Specifically, to be over the legal threshold for the consumption of alcohol while driving, a driver must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 grams or more.

It is also possible to be arrested for a DUI if a person drives under the influence of mind-altering drugs, or a combination of alcohol or drugs. For example, taking narcotics or prescription medication can slow a driver’s reaction times and make it difficult to drive a vehicle.

When driving on any roadway within the State of Utah, a driver is subject to the implied consent law regarding driving under the influence. The implied consent law makes it legal for law enforcement to subject a driver to chemical testing of a person’s breath, blood, urine, and oral fluids to determine their level of intoxication.

It may seem reasonable to believe that a person would not be subject to implied consent laws if they are not driving a vehicle or are unconscious within a vehicle. However, it is possible to be arrested for a DUI in Salt Lake City even if you only have what Utah law refers to as “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Actual physical control of a vehicle means that a person has the ability or the potential to operate a vehicle at any time. For example, if a defendant has fallen asleep in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with the keys to their car in their hands, they can start the car and drive away at any time.

Since the implied consent laws apply even when a person only has actual physical control of a vehicle, it means that a defendant cannot avoid chemical testing by stating they were unable to drive because they were unconscious.

To learn more about the penalties for DUI in Utah, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for DUI Convictions in Salt Lake City, UT

The penalties for DUI in Salt Lake City can depend on a number of factors. Typically, first-time offenses for DUI will result in a defendant being charged with a class B misdemeanor. In Utah, class B misdemeanors carry a maximum jail term of six months in jail and $1,000 in criminal fines.

In some cases, the penalties for a DUI conviction can be increased even for a first- or second-time offender. For example, if a defendant caused another person to suffer a bodily injury while they were operating a vehicle while drunk, their offense can be graded as a class A misdemeanor. In Utah, class A misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and $2,500 in fines. Other circumstances where a DUI can be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor include:

  • The defendant had a passenger under 16 years of age when they arrested for DUI
  • The defendant was over the age of 21 and had a passenger under the age of 18 when arrested

There is also a possibility that a DUI case can be escalated to a third degree felony. This typically happens when an offender has more than one conviction for DUI. Third degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

It is also important to note that refusing chemical testing could result in other penalties like a driver’s license suspension.

Work with an Experienced Salt Lake City DUI Defense Attorney You Can Trust

If you were arrested in Utah and charged with driving under the influence, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense attorney today. At Overson & Bugden, we understand how a conviction for DUI can impact your life, and we are here for you in your time of need. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287, or contact us online.