Most out-of-state drivers don’t realize that a DUI in Utah can have a significant impact their driving record. Also, a DUI conviction appears in their criminal backgrounds irrespective of their place of residence.
Utah, like most states, shares information with other states regarding DUI violations. Most jurisdictions will also honor the sanctions imposed in Utah on another state’s driver’s license consistent with their laws. Utah Code § 41-6a-502 (4) requires courts to provide monthly updates of DUI convictions to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
If you or someone you know lives out-of-state and was charged with a DUI, call Overson Law PLLC for aggressive legal representation. Attorney Darwin Overson will give your case the attention necessary to protect your driving record and uphold your rights. Call us at (801) 823-6678 to schedule a free and private consultation.
Understanding Utah’s DUI Laws
Utah has very stringent laws when it comes to drinking and driving. As of 2018, Utah became the first state in the country to lower their BAC (blood alcohol concentration) percentage from 0.08% to 0.05% for all drivers over 21. This makes Utah the strictest state in terms of DUI. As such, Utah also has punishing penalties for those caught driving under the influence of alcohol.
Utah’s DUI laws are even more unforgiving when it comes to underage drivers and truck drivers. For these two categories, the law requires even lower BAC readings. In other words, Utah has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol while visiting the state of Utah, you need to call an attorney immediately.
Utah Drunk Driving Penalties
If you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Utah, you may risk suffering devastating penalties. Depending on your situation, you may spend time in jail and face thousands of dollars in criminal fines. Your situation may worsen if you have a previous DUI history, cause injury or death to another person while driving intoxicated, or engage in DUI with a minor passenger.
Utah divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are lesser charges, which can carry some of the more lenient penalties. Conversely, felonies are the most severe types of criminal charges and typically have the harshest penalties. Most of the time, misdemeanors can lead to jail time and criminal fines. Felonies, on the other hand, can lead to years in prison and thousands of dollars in criminal fines.
For instance, if you are arrested for a first DUI in Utah, you can face Class B misdemeanor charges. Class B misdemeanor penalties include up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. However, your penalties can increase if, as we mentioned, you cause bodily injury upon another or are driving intoxicated while having a minor as a passenger. In this case, your charges can increase to a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
Utah imposes even stiffer penalties in specific situations. If you have previous DUI convictions and are a repeat offender, you can face felony charges. As we mentioned, felony charges are the more severe type of criminal offense that can carry severe penalties. If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Utah, you can face up to five years in prison and $up to $5,500 in criminal fines.
As you can see, the law is stringent when it comes to DUI. If you are visiting from another state and pulled over and charged with DUI, you need a skilled out of state DUI lawyer’s assistance. Our attorneys can help you with these legal matters.
What to Do If You Got a Utah DUI and You Live Out of State
It’s important to hire a lawyer to assist with your DUI in Utah. This is one situation where a qualified attorney can mean the difference between light or severe consequences, including impacts on your freedom and your driver’s license. You need someone who will fight the charges and advocate for leniency in your case.
For example, if no one suffered bodily harm and this is your first DUI offense, a Utah court is more receptive to a lighter sentence. Also, Utah courts typically consider mitigating circumstances, such as involvement in your community and other positive aspects an experienced attorney can explain.
Also, with some of the harshest DUI laws in the United States, a Utah DUI can create all sorts of hurdles. Since most states report DUIs and related driver’s license suspensions, your state may suspend your license as well. You can face a DUI charge even if your vehicle is not in motion.
If this is your first DUI, the classification is generally a Class B misdemeanor. Under this classification, Utah can suspend your driving privileges for at least 4 months. Suspension of driving privileges means you’re not allowed to drive through Utah. At the point in which you have more than one offense, the stakes are much higher because Utah can suspend your privileges for 2 years.
Will My Home State Revoke My License for an Out of State DUI?
Depending on the severity of the charges, some states will revoke driver’s licenses by applying the rules and regulations of that state. For example, a DUI conviction based on BAC of .05% is inconsistent with most states’ law, whereas the BAC level is .08%.
While the other state may not impose the same penalty as provided under Utah law, you can still face a suspension of your driver’s license in your state. In addition, if you were cited in court and failed to appear, you’re likely in contempt of court. Utah can issue a warrant in your name, which can appear in Utah’s public list of outstanding warrants for contempt of court.
Defending Against DUI Charges in Utah if You Live in Another State
Despite Utah’s strict DUI laws, there are certain defenses available that may help avoid the imposition of criminal penalties. It is critical to get assistance from a skilled, experienced Utah DUI attorney who can help defend you against your charges. The following represent some of the most common DUI defenses.
There have been many cases where a person gets intoxicated without their knowledge. Suppose you are at a party, and someone spikes the punch bowl without your knowledge. It is possible that you got drunk – especially if you are not used to drinking alcohol. As improbable as it may sound, there have been countless situations where unsuspecting people have gotten drunk because of another person’s fault. This is the case with individuals who have been coerced into drinking. This kind of defense may seem suspicious. However, it can be shown you were the victim of coercion, or someone spiked your drink and engaged in DUI through no fault of your own. Our Utah DUI attorneys can help you with this defense.
Typically, the police need probable cause to stop you and charge you with DUI. This means the arresting officer must have concrete facts leading them to believe the person to be arrested is driving under the influence – or is otherwise breaching the law. A police officer cannot stop you randomly and charge you with a crime. Instead, the police must follow a protocol before, during, and after stopping you. If a police officer lacks probable cause to stop you, you may have the chance to defend against your charges.
This defense may also extend to other behavior displayed by the police. For example, a police officer cannot stop you under DUI suspicion and register the entire vehicle searching for incriminating evidence. Before an officer can search your vehicle, they must have a valid warrant. If they don’t have a warrant, all of the evidence obtained cannot be admissible in court.
Inaccurate Field Sobriety Test
Field sobriety tests are commonly performed on individuals suspected of DUI. This test consists of three different examinations and is done before using a breathalyzer. Generally, an officer will conduct a horizontal gaze test, a walk and turn test, and a one-leg stand test. These field tests allow the police officer to “determine” if you are drunk or not. However, there is a problem when an officer makes bad use of these tests. For instance, people may have disabilities or other conditions that may cause them to fail a field sobriety test. Relying on these examinations alone may not reflect the arrested person’s condition. If an arresting officer charged you anyway, you may defend against your charges. Our Utah DUI lawyers can assist you with this matter.
Inaccurate Breathalyzer Test
Breathalyzer tests are used to detect traces of alcohol in your system. This is achieved by using a breathalyzer machine. Typically, you have to blow through a plastic tube, and the device will read the alcohol concentration in your breath. However, these machines and their results may not always be accurate. Breathalyzer machines must go through tune-ups and re-calibrations to ensure accurate readings. Your Utah DUI attorney can help you challenge the accuracy of your breathalyzer results.
How Our Experienced Utah DUI Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal DUI charges in Utah, these charges will not go away just because you live out of state. On the contrary, a previous DUI conviction or another notable traffic citation from another state can have an impact on your Utah charges. Utah receives this information as provided under Utah Code § 41-6a-511, which gives its Department of Public Safety the legal mandate to maintain an electronic database for DUI related records, including information related to:
- Law enforcement
- Judicial decisions
- Driver license limitations
- Alcohol education, assessment and treatment
Anyone who is driving through the state of Utah has to follow its laws. You can’t claim as an excuse that you live out-of-state where DUI laws are less strict, or merely that you don’t know the law. Hiring a Utah criminal defense lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of your case because law enforcement has to abide by certain rules and requirements in order to put forth a valid DUI accusation.
The basis for a DUI accusation cannot be a hunch or suspicion by the police officer. Most people don’t know there are subtle rules that can invalidate a DUI accusation. At Overson Law, we have seasoned DUI legal practitioners with a track record of successful representations in DUI defense cases.
If you have a prior DUI record from another state, the Utah court can consider that information in determining whether to enhance the level of charges you may face. A qualified DUI attorney can guide you through the local court process and seek all viable options, including the possibility of reducing your offense and/or seeking to have the charges dismissed.
Gathering evidence is also a key component of your DUI defense. Your BAC level records, the type of breathalyzer used to test you, and whether you received the constitutionally guaranteed warnings required in the state of Utah are all helpful when you’re fighting a DUI.
Call Your Experienced Out-of-State DUI Attorney
If you live outside Utah, the last thing you want is to find yourself in trouble where you reside for ignoring a DUI that happened while you were visiting or vacationing in Utah. Contact Overson Law PLLC to receive a free evaluation of your case and determine the impact that a DUI in Utah can have on your life. Call (801) 823-6678 to learn more about how Overson Law can help you today.