Impaired Driving vs DUI Charges in Utah

In Utah, impaired driving is a reduced offense for driving under the influence. This means that you must first be arrested for DUI before you can attempt to reduce that charge to a lesser charge of impaired driving. An impaired driving charge is preferable to a DUI charge because of the various penalties that you can avoid. If you or a family member was arrested for driving under the influence, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer. Darwin Overson has represented residents of Salt Lake City and others across Utah for over 16 years and would be proud to represent you. Overson Law is here to explain the differences between charges for impaired driving and charges for DUI in Utah.

Utah’s DUI Laws

As mentioned, an impaired driving offense stems from a DUI offense. Utah’s driving under the influence statute explains the circumstances necessary to be charged with a DUI offense. In Utah, you can be arrested for drunk driving, drugged driving, or a combination of the two.

To determine whether you should be arrested for DUI, law enforcement will decide whether you were driving a car while intoxicated or if you had the potential to drive a car while intoxicated. For example, if you fall asleep inside a car while you have the keys to the car, this may be enough to arrest you for DUI.

In Utah, you cannot have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher while driving (.05 after December 30, 2018). If you are pulled over because law enforcement suspects that you are driving drunk, they may administer a chemical test to check your BAC. Utah has an implied consent law that applies to motorists who operate their vehicle on Utah’s roadways. If you refuse a chemical test, you risk having your license suspended for several months.

Additionally, Utah’s DUI statute also states that if drugs or alcohol adversely impact your ability to operate a vehicle, you can be arrested for DUI. To learn more about Utah’s DUI laws, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.

Utah’s impaired driving statute does not list the elements of impaired driving because it has the same elements as a DUI offense. This means that if you are arrested for driving under the influence, and the prosecutor agrees to a plea deal, you will be convicted of impaired driving instead of DUI if you fulfill all the requirements of an impaired driving plea deal.

Impaired Driving Penalties vs. Driving Under the Influence Penalties

If an offender completes the requirements for making a plea down to impaired driving, they will be able to avoid various penalties associated with a DUI offense. To understand the advantages of an impaired driving charge you should know the penalties for a DUI charge.

A first or second time DUI offender can be found guilty of a class B misdemeanor. In Utah, class B misdemeanors carry a possible jail term of six months and up to $1,000 in criminal fines. A first- or second-time offender can also be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor under the following circumstances:

  • Injuring or causing someone to be injured while driving under the influence
  • Driving under the influence with a minor that is under 16 years old
  • Being 21 or older and driving under the influence with a passenger that is younger than 18

The penalties for a class A misdemeanor are up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

There are two ways that you can receive an impaired driving charge. The first option is by negotiating with the prosecutor in your case to plea to a class B misdemeanor for your DUI offense. If the prosecutor and the court accept the plea, your DUI charge will be reduced to an impaired driving offense. The second option is by completing court ordered probation after pleading to a class B misdemeanor DUI. If you do not complete all the probation requirements, the court will reinstate your original DUI charges.

The main benefits of an impaired driving plea are avoiding jail time and criminal fines. However, there are other benefits as well. For example, if your license was not suspended as part of the original DUI charges, Utah’s Driver License Division (DLD) will not suspend your license. Additionally, if your license is suspended after entering an impaired driving plea, the DLD may decrease the amount of time that your license is suspended.

Compared to the penalties you can receive for a typical DUI, it may be worth it to pursue an impaired driving plea. It is important to note that an impaired driving plea is not available for individuals with a prior DUI conviction. This plea is also not available to drivers of a commercial vehicle or CDL (commercial driver’s license) holders who commit a DUI.

Contact a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your DUI Case

If you or a family member was arrested for DUI, you should contact an experienced Layton criminal defense attorney today. Darwin Overson is here to help you fight your DUI case. To schedule a free legal consultation, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287.