How Juveniles Are Sentenced for Misdemeanor DUI in Utah

As a Salt Lake City juvenile defense lawyer, driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common crimes Darwin Overson sees minors get charged with.  While Utah’s juvenile courts are civil instead of criminal, the penalties for underage DUI can still be severe.  If your son or daughter is found guilty of DUI in Utah, the judge will refer to the sentencing guidelines described in this article when determining what the punishment should be.  

How Are Minors Sentenced for Driving Under the Influence in Utah?

When an adult commits a crime, the case is heard in:

  • Justice court, if it is a Class B or Class C misdemeanor.
  • District court, if it is a Class A misdemeanor or any type of felony.

Minors are typically tried in juvenile courts, though there are exceptions when a juvenile is charged with a felony.  If a juvenile defendant is found guilty, he or she will be adjudicated delinquent and sentenced accordingly.

The sentence may involve a combination of fines, community service, supervised probation, mandatory counseling for substance abuse, and other consequences.  To guide sentencing determinations, Utah’s juvenile judges refer to an alcohol offense sentencing matrix, which establishes two sets of consequences for underage DUI: consequences the judge can impose, and consequences the judge will impose.  These consequences are outlined below.

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Utah Juvenile Penalties: Consequences of Intoxicated Driving Misdemeanors

The following penalties deal with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, which is a criminal offense under Utah Code § 41-6a-502.  For information about penalties for other alcohol-related offenses, such as purchasing alcohol while under age 21 or using a fake ID, see our article on Utah sentencing guidelines for underage drinking.

First Offense Misdemeanor DUI

  • The court may order:
  • Treatment for alcohol addiction and abuse.
  • Supervised probation.  A juvenile who is on probation must obey certain rules (conditions of probation) and report to a probation officer.  Utah probation violations can have serious consequences of their own.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), which acts like a breathalyzer that prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.  IID installation may be required for three reasons: (1) it is a condition of probation, (2) the juvenile had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.16% or greater (“high BAC”), or (3) the juvenile is an “alcohol restricted driver” and commits an ARD violation under Utah Code § 41-6a-530.
    • The court shall order:
      • A minimum fine of at least $700.
      • A screening for substance abuse.  Depending on the results of the screening, the juvenile may be ordered to participate in an assessment and education and/or treatment.  If applicable, the education series must be approved by the Utah Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
      • At least 48 hours of either: (1) detention in a secure facility (which is similar to jail but houses juveniles), (2) house arrest (“electronic home confinement”), or (3) participation in a work program.  Hours spent in detention or under house arrest must be consecutive.
      • The juvenile’s driver’s license will be suspended by the Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division, for 120 days or until he or she turns 21 — whichever lasts longer.  The court can potentially extend a license suspension by 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, one year, or two years, or revoke the license altogether.  On the other hand, the court also has the power to shorten a suspension period if the juvenile is able to successfully complete a series of requirements, which includes a minimum suspension period of six months.  There is a complex process to restoring a Utah driver’s license suspended for DUI.

Second Offense Misdemeanor DUI

The juvenile penalties for a second misdemeanor DUI increase.

  • The court may order:
    • Assessment and education or treatment depending on the results of a screening, following the same guidelines described for a first offense DUI misdemeanor.
    • Supervised probation.
  • The court shall order:
    • A minimum fine of at least $800.
    • An alcohol abuse screening, which may be followed by assessments and education or treatment.
    • At least 240 consecutive hours of house arrest or detention in a secure facility.  Depending on the situation, 240 hours of work program participation may be a possible alternative.
    • Installation of an IID, if the offense occurred within 10 years of the juvenile’s first DUI conviction.
    • See driver’s license suspension penalties for a first offense DUI above.

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Salt Lake City Defense Attorney Representing Teen Drivers

In addition to an array of tough court-ordered penalties, a DUI charge can also have devastating collateral consequences for your child, who could be suspended from playing in sports events, lose scholarship eligibility, or face other disciplinary measures.  If your daughter or son was arrested for drunk driving in Utah, your family needs an aggressive and highly experienced Salt Lake City DUI attorney who will fight hard on your child’s behalf.

Call the law offices of Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 to set up a free legal consultation regarding the accusations against your child.  We will keep your family’s information confidential.