Is There Mandatory Jail Time for DUI in Utah?

Whether you call it drunk driving, intoxicated driving, or driving under the influence, DUI is one of the most common criminal charges in Utah. In fact, according to statistics from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, almost 11,000 people were arrested for DUI in Utah during 2016 alone. If you or one of your loved ones was recently arrested and charged with DUI in Utah, it’s important for you to understand that serious penalties can result from a conviction – including jail time. Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson explains sentencing for driving under the influence in Utah, including misdemeanors, felonies, first offenses, and repeat offenses.

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Do You Have to Go to Jail for a DUI in Utah?

If a defendant is convicted of DUI in Utah, he or she will sentenced by a judge. The judge has some discretion over how to sentence a defendant for DUI, but will also consider the sentencing guidelines created by the Utah Sentencing Commission. The sentencing guidelines for intoxicated driving are listed under what is called the “Utah DUI sentencing matrix.”

The sentencing matrix creates two sets of penalties for all DUI offenses: penalties that the court shall order (mandatory penalties), and penalties that the court may order (possible penalties). Both the sentencing matrix and state law (Utah Code § 41-6a-505) generally require the court to order DUI jail time – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be served behind bars. Depending on the case, the defendant could potentially be sentenced to “electronic home confinement” (house arrest) instead of being required to serve time in a county jail. There are also some situations where the defendant can avoid going to jail or being placed under house arrest by performing community service instead.

We’ll talk more about the conditions of community service or house arrest for DUI in a few moments; but first, let’s look at how long a DUI sentence is in Utah. Various DUI sentencing possibilities are listed below by offense level and the number of offenses within a 10-year period.

  • Misdemeanor DUI, First Offense 
    • Jail Sentence – 48 hours (2 days)
    • House Arrest – 48 hours
    • Community Service – 48 hours
  • Misdemeanor DUI, Second Offense (Within 10 Years) 
    • Jail Sentence – 240 hours (10 days)
    • House Arrest – 240 hours
    • Community Service – 240 hours
  • Felony DUI  
    • Jail Sentence – 1,500 hours (62 ½ days) or up to 5 years in prison
    • House Arrest – 1,500 hours
    • Community Service – Not a sentencing possibility (available only for misdemeanor offenses)

In each scenario, the judge shall order – not may order – either jail time, house arrest, or, in misdemeanor cases, community service. Community service for DUI is formally called a “compensatory-service work program.” Depending on your criminal history and other factors, a Salt Lake City DUI lawyer may be able to advocate for a community service sentence instead of jail time or house arrest.

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Utah House Arrest Rules for Drunk Driving

Given the option, most people would prefer house arrest to incarceration in a county jail. However, house arrest involves some rather strict rules and requirements of its own. These regulations, which are listed under Utah Code § 41-6a-506, include the following:

  • People who are under house arrest must use an electronic monitoring device at all times.
  • The monitoring device will be placed somewhere in the person’s home or another location. A monitoring device worn on the body is commonly called an “ankle bracelet” or “ankle monitor.”
  • The defendant, not the court, is generally responsible for paying for any costs associated with the monitoring device. However, if the court finds that the defendant has financial hardship, these expenses can be fully or partially waived.

Depending on the situation, the court might also:

  • Require the monitoring device to feature an instrument that can test for substance abuse (such as a breathalyzer device).
  • Set a limit on how much alcohol the person is allowed to drink while he or she is under house arrest.

Depending on his or her situation, the court might allow the defendant to leave the house at specific times, traveling along specific routes, in order to reach specific locations, such as a school or workplace.

Salt Lake City Criminal Lawyer for Misdemeanor and Felony DUI

If you or one of your loved ones was charged with drugged or intoxicated driving in Salt Lake City, Layton, South Jordan, West Jordan, West Valley City, Millcreek, Sandy, Provo, Orem, Taylorsville, or elsewhere in Utah, it’s very important that you contact a marijuana DUI attorney or drunk driving attorney as soon as possible for legal help. The consequences of DUI with drugs or alcohol can be very serious, even for first offenses, but effective representation increases the likelihood that you will receive more lenient penalties. It may even be possible to have your case dismissed. Even if a loved one has already been taken into custody for DUI, a Salt Lake County Jail criminal defense lawyer may be able to help.

However, you need to act quickly. The longer you wait to get legal assistance, the more difficult it will be to fight the charges. Talk to an experienced Utah DUI attorney today: call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 for a free legal consultation.