Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime in Utah, which has the country’s strictest laws against drunk driving. If you are arrested for DUI while visiting Utah from another state, you can face harsh criminal penalties, including jail time and heavy fines.
Do not put your future at risk by attempting to navigate Utah’s justice system on your own. You need legal help from an experienced DUI defense attorney who understands the charges against you – and the defense strategies that can be used to protect you. With more than 16 years of experience fighting felony and misdemeanor DUI charges, Salt Lake City DUI lawyer Darwin Overson can guide you through the court system while protecting your constitutional rights and fighting for reduced penalties or even the dismissal of your case. Contact us online right away to set up a free legal consultation, or call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.
What Happens if I Get Arrested While Visiting Another State?
If you are arrested for drunk driving in Utah, it is Utah’s courts – and penalties – you will face. This is due to a legal issue called “jurisdiction,” which, put simply, means that only certain courts have the right to try certain crimes. For example, Utah’s Justice Courts do not have jurisdiction over felonies, which means they cannot try felony cases. Instead, jurisdiction dictates that felonies be tried in Utah’s District Courts.
A similar concept applies when it comes to out-of-state crimes: if a visitor from another state is accused of breaking the law in Utah, he or she will be tried in Utah. However, there may be some exceptions permitted for misdemeanors. Depending on the specifics of the case, the court may allow the defendant to return to his or her home state while a local DUI lawyer in Utah handles the court proceedings. In felony cases, the defendant is generally required to appear in person for court hearings.
This law can also work in reverse. For example, imagine that a Utah resident is accused of committing a crime in Utah, then flees to another state, such as Nevada. Utah has jurisdiction over that case, even though the defendant is now located in Nevada. Law enforcement in Nevada is required, through a network of state and federal laws, to bring the defendant back to Utah to face justice. This process is known as “interstate extradition.”
Utah DUI Laws (Driving Under the Influence)
As of 2019, Utah enforces the strictest DUI laws in the United States. In most states, a person can be charged with DUI for driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) measurement that meets or exceeds 0.08. Utah, however, recently lowered this limit to 0.05.
For certain types of drivers, the cut-offs are even stricter. Commercial drivers, such as truck drivers, can be arrested for DUI with a BAC of just 0.04. Strictest of all is Utah’s “Not a Drop” law, which applies to drivers who are below the legal drinking age of 21. Anyone under 21 can be arrested for DUI with any detectable alcohol in their system, even with a BAC as low as 0.01. It is called the “Not a Drop” rule because any amount of alcohol, no matter how small, is prohibited.
Drivers can also face penalties for several violations closely related to DUI. For example, Utah’s “implied consent” law prohibits refusing a breathalyzer test. Penalties can also be triggered by violations of open container laws, which prohibit operating a motor vehicle while opened containers of alcohol are accessible to the driver. However, there is an exception which generally permits keeping alcohol in a locked trunk, where it cannot be accessed.
What is the Penalty for Drunk Driving in Utah?
In most cases, DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense in Utah. For instance, a first-offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor. However, DUI can also become a felony offense if certain factors or elements are present. For example, DUI is a felony in Utah if it causes the death or serious injury of another person, or if it is a third offense.
The misdemeanor penalties for a first-offense DUI in Utah include 48 hours of mandatory jail time, community service, and fines exceeding $1,300. Your driver license may also be suspended by your home state. Keep in mind that license suspensions are entered into a national database, which means that police officers in any state will be able to tell if you are driving with a suspended license.
Utah DUI Defense Attorney for Out-of-State Crimes
A drunk driving arrest can spiral into a criminal case that endangers your freedom and your future. When you are facing trial in another state, separated from family and loved ones while navigating an unfamiliar system, the stakes are even higher. Get the help you need from a seasoned trial attorney with extensive experience fighting Utah DUI charges on behalf of out-of-state visitors.
Contact Overson Law, PLLC online to set up a free consultation, or call (801) 758-2287 to speak with an attorney today. We are available 24 hours to help.