Is It Illegal to Ski or Snowboard While Under the Influence in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Skiing and snowboarding are popular sports in Utah. Nearby ski resorts like Alta Ski Area, Brighton Ski Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and Park City Mountain offer visitors the chance to hit the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding are already dangerous sports. Mixing alcohol into the situation may make matters worse.

Although alcohol does not mix well with snowboarding and skiing, you should not be charged with a DUI for skiing or snowboarding while under the influence. Even so, there are other drug and alcohol-related crimes that might apply. You might be charged with public intoxication or drug-related offenses like possession. You can even get a DUI for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated.

If you are facing criminal charges after allegedly drinking while snowboarding or skiing, call our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers for help. One mistake should not be allowed to ruin your life. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.

Can I Get a DUI or DWI While Skiing or Snowboarding in Utah?

The good news is that you cannot be charged with a DUI for skiing or snowboarding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While mixing alcohol with extreme winter sports like snowboarding and skiing is a bit dangerous, it is not a criminal offense. Charges for DUIs are assessed under Utah Code § 41-6a-502, which specifically states that a person may not operate a vehicle while intoxicated. A snowboard or a set of skis does not fit the definition of a vehicle under Utah Code § 41-6a-102(78).

Many ski resorts serve alcohol to guests and having a drink before skiing or snowboarding is not a crime. Even so, it might still land you in trouble. Call our Layton DUI defense lawyers if you believe you are in legal trouble for alcohol use.

Criminal Charges for Skiing or Snowboarding While Under the Influence in Utah

Just because skiing or snowboarding and drinking is not a crime does not mean there are no rules on the slopes. Being intoxicated may land you in hot water for other reasons, and you might face different criminal charges. Contact our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers for assistance and advice if you were arrested for a drug or alcohol-related offense at a ski resort.

Public Intoxication

The crime of intoxication can be found under Utah Code § 76-9-701(1) and may apply in cases where a person is intoxicated while skiing or snowboarding. Public intoxication, or simply “intoxication,” may be charged when a person is so intoxicated by drugs or alcohol that they may endanger themselves or others. The incident may occur in a public or private setting where the person may unreasonably disturb others.

A prime example of public intoxication is skiing or snowboarding while severely under the influence. These are already somewhat dangerous sports that require a sharp, focused mind. An intoxicated skier or snowboarder may pose a safety risk to themselves or other people on the slopes. Remember, this is not a DUI charge since you cannot be charged with a DUI while skiing or snowboarding.

Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor in Utah. As such, it may be punished by a jail term of no longer than 90 days. A convicted defendant may also be fined up to $750.

Drug-Related Offenses

DUIs are not only charged for alcohol-related offenses and can also be charged when a person is under the influence of controlled substances. Just like with alcohol, a DUI cannot be charged for being under the influence of drugs while skiing or snowboarding. However, a person under the influence of controlled substances while out on the slopes may face drug-related charges.

Common drug charges include possession or use and possession with the intent to distribute (PWID). According to Utah Code § 58-37-8, a defendant may face charges for having a controlled substance in their system or on their person. Charges can be worse if they have the intent to deliver that substance to others – e.g., by bringing drugs for your friends to take during a ski trip.

Charges vary based on the type of controlled substances involved. For a first conviction of simple possession or use of a Schedule I or II controlled substance, a defendant faces Class A misdemeanor charges and up to 364 days in jail. For PWID for Schedule I or II controlled substances, a defendant may face second-degree felony charges and a prison term of at least 1 year and up to 15 years.

DUIs While Driving Snowmobiles

Although skiing or snowboarding while under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol is not a criminal offense and will not result in DUI charges, the same cannot be said for operating a snowmobile under the same circumstances. Under Utah Code § 41-22-2(14), off-highway vehicles specifically include snowmobiles. Skiers and snowboarders might use or rent snowmobiles to navigate the slopes.

Utah Code § 41-22-10.6(1) requires anyone driving an off-highway vehicle, including snowmobiles, to comply with all the provisions of the Utah Traffic Code, including DUI restrictions, unless otherwise specifically excluded.

Suppose you are arrested by the police for public intoxication on the slopes while you are out skiing with your friends. Next, suppose the police find out you used a snowmobile to traverse the hillside while looking for a spot to ski. In that case, the police can arrest you for a DUI if they have probable cause that you were intoxicated while using the snowmobile.

If this sounds like your case, our Lehi criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges. We can call into question whether you had actual physical control over the snowmobile or whether one of your friends was driving.

Call Our Utah DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys for Help

Our Orem criminal defense attorneys can assist you if you have been charged with a DUI or a related offense for allegedly being intoxicated while skiing or snowboarding. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation.