Leaving the state does not make problems with the law go away. If you happened to be in the middle of a relocation when you were arrested for DUI, or if you are trying to leave the state to escape penalties, it is important to understand how those charges can follow you, how the penalties can still affect you, and how your situation can become worse if you fail to appear in court. Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law explains what exactly leaving Utah does to your DUI charges.
Does a DUI Follow You from State to State?
If you are charged with a crime, you must appear in court to address the charges against you. If you are convicted, you must also face the penalties that that state has for the crime. Crimes, including DUI, are based on the law of the state where they take place, not the state where you live. Those charges also continue to stand until they result in a conviction, or are dismissed. There are “statutes of limitation” that prevent police from filing charges against you years after the incident occurred. But, if the charges are already filed, they will remain on record indefinitely if you do not address them.
Leaving the state where you are charged does not remove the charges against you. In fact, failing to appear in court can have additional consequences. Usually, unless the crime is deadly, prosecutors and judges will allow you to be released from custody after charging you. This means that you, on your own, need to check in with any bail agencies as required, and must appear to court. Failing to do so means you may forfeit any bail or bail bonds that you posted to be released, and can lead to a “bench warrant.” A bench warrant is issued by a judge (from the “bench”), and authorizes police to re-arrest you and return you to court to face charges. Even if you are out of state, police in another state may get notice of your warrant and arrest you, sending you to jail in Utah to face the charges there.
If you are convicted of DUI, the penalties may be confusing. Utah’s DUI statute includes a license suspension of 120 days (4 months) for a first offense, and 2 years for a second or subsequent offense. However, this suspends your Utah drivers’ license and your ability to drive in the State of Utah. If you are moving, you may need to get a new license in your new state, anyway. However, your ability to drive in Utah will still be suspended. Additionally, other states may ask questions about prior or recent convictions for DUI and drivers’ license suspensions from other state, and may block you from getting a new license because of them.
Penalties for Multiple DUI in Other States
In nearly every state, DUI crimes have higher penalties for repeat offenders. If you have a second DUI in Utah, the drivers’ license suspension is increased from 120 days to 2 years. In addition, a third or further offense is upgraded from a class B misdemeanor to a third degree felony.
Class B misdemeanors are the standard DUI penalty in Utah, and carry…
- Up to 6 months in jail, and
- Fines up to $1,000.
Third degree felonies, instead, carry…
- Up to 5 years in prison, and
- Fines up to $5,000.
However, what happens if you are convicted of DUI in one state, then convicted again in another state?
Many DUI statutes across the country are written to account for DUIs in other states. Utah’s DUI penalty statute, Utah Code § 4-61(a)-503, increases penalties for “two or more prior convictions as defined in Subsection 41-6a-501(2).” § 41-6a-501(2) looks at Utah DUI convictions, but also convictions under any other state’s statute, if that crime would have also violated Utah’s DUI statute. This means that if you were convicted of one or more DUI crimes in another state, a first-time Utah DUI conviction may still count as a second or further offense.
Many other states have similar laws. Their rules may account for prior DUI convictions in other states (such as Utah) as well. However, if they rely upon their statute overlapping with Utah’s statute, you may be in luck. At the beginning of 2019, Utah’s DUI statute becomes more strict, lowering the legal limit to .05%. This may mean that other states with looser DUI laws may not be able to use a Utah conviction after December 31, 2018 against you.
Salt Lake City DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have questions about how your Utah DUI charges or convictions may affect you if you leave the state or are convicted for DUI in another state, talk to an attorney today. Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law offers free consultations. For your free consultation, call (801) 758-2287 today.