What Are the Penalties for a First-Offense DUI in Utah?

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When a person is convicted of a crime, the sentencing judge will impose certain penalties.  If the same person is later convicted for a second or third time, the penalties are likely to be much more severe.  This is true of all criminal offenses, including DUI (driving under the influence), which is also called drunk driving or intoxicated driving.  Salt Lake City DUI lawyer Darwin Overson explains the potential consequences of a first-time DUI conviction in Utah – and how those penalties increase if the defendant is later convicted of multiple, repeat offenses.

Utah Fines and Jail Sentence for a First Drunk Driving Conviction

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Before discussing the penalties for DUI, let’s go through a quick overview of the basis for these charges.

In Utah – and every other state – the BAC (blood alcohol content) threshold for DUI charges is 0.08%.  If a driver’s BAC is 0.08% or above, he or she can be charged with DUI.  Keep in mind that for certain motorists, like commercial drivers and people under the legal drinking age, the BAC limit is lower.

DUI can also be charged for driving under the influence of drugs, but in those situations, since BAC is irrelevant, charges are based on the signs of drug impairment, which officers known as D.R.E.s, or “Drug Recognition Experts,” are trained to detect.  If the DUI involves narcotics, the driver can also be charged with drug crimes like possession of controlled substances.

The penalties for DUI are set forth in Utah Code § 41-6a-503.  (The offense itself is described separately in a different statute, Utah Code § 41-6a-502.  You can find either statute under the Utah State Legislature.)

Under Utah Code § 41-6a-503, a first-offense DUI may be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, or a Class A misdemeanor, which is more serious.  It depends on whether the DUI causes injury, and the age of any passengers who were in the vehicle.

The penalties for a Class B misdemeanor normally include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, while the penalties for a Class A misdemeanor normally include a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail.  However, the DUI sentencing matrix, which judges refer to when imposing DUI sentences, provides different penalties.

The judge will order:

  • 48 hours in jail
  • Various fines and fees amounting to $1,370
  • A 120-day suspension of your driver’s license
  • A screening, which may result in mandatory education and/or treatment

The judge may order:

  • Supervised probation
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device, which will prevent your car from starting if alcohol is detected on your breath
  • Up to two years of additional driver’s license suspension

How Intoxicated Driving Penalties Increase for Second and Third Offenses

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Utah Code § 41-6a-503(1) lumps first and second DUI offenses together, describing “A person who [commits DUI] for the first or second time…” before classifying the charges.  This may lead one to believe that a person convicted of DUI for a second time will receive the same penalties as he or she would for a first offense.  However, a look at the Utah DUI sentencing matrix tells a different story.

For a second-offense DUI (within 10 years of the first offense), the judge will order:

  • 240 hours (10 days) in jail
  • Various fines and fees amounting to $1,560
  • A two-year suspension of your driver’s license
  • A screening, which may result in mandatory education and/or treatment
  • Supervised probation

Additionally, the judge may order:

  • Ignition interlock
  • Up to two years of additional driver’s license suspension

If you are charged with DUI on a third occasion, you can expect the penalties to increase even more.  A third-offense DUI is no longer a misdemeanor – it is a third degree felony, which is much more serious.  If you are convicted of DUI in Utah for a third time, or felony DUI, the judge will order:

  • Up to five years in prison, or about 63 days in jail
  • Various fines and fees amounting to $2,890 (unless the defendant is sentenced to prison)
  • A two-year suspension of your driver’s license
  • Screening, assessment, and treatment for at least 240 hours (unless the defendant is sentenced to prison)
  • Supervised probation (unless the defendant is sentenced to prison)

Additionally, the judge may order:

  • Ignition interlock
  • Electronic home confinement (“house arrest”)
  • Up to two years of additional driver’s license suspension

Keep in mind that these are penalties apply to drivers who are at least 21 years old and had a BAC below 0.16%, which is considered “high BAC.”  If you engage in drunk driving while you are under the legal drinking age, and/or if you have a high BAC, some of the resulting penalties can be harsher.  If your teenage son or daughter was arrested for DUI, you may wish to see our article on juvenile misdemeanor DUI sentencing.

If someone is killed as a result of the DUI, the driver can be charged with a very serious crime which is called automobile homicide in Utah.

Contact a Salt Lake City DUI Defense Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation

For additional information about Utah drunk driving charges, you may be interested in reading our article on Utah DUI laws.  However, no amount of information found online can take the place of quality legal representation, which gives you the greatest chance of beating the charges and getting back to your normal life with minimal consequences.

If you were charged with drunk driving in Utah, or if a family member was arrested for intoxicated driving, it is vital that you contact a West Valley City DUI attorney or a West Jordan DUI lawyer as soon as possible.  Call the law offices of Overson Law today at (801) 733-1308 for a free and confidential legal consultation.

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