Your blood alcohol content (BAC), sometimes called blood alcohol concentration, is the measurable amount of alcohol in your body. Your BAC can be used to assess charges for driving under the influence (DUI). While there is an official “legal limit,” you can still be charged with a BAC under the limit.
The legal BAC limit in Utah is .05 grams. This is lower than the more common limit of .08 imposed in most other states. If your BAC meets or exceeds this limit, you can be charged with a per se DUI. Additionally, you can be charged with DUI with a BAC under the legal limit if you are too intoxicated to safely operate a vehicle. There are also separate legal limits for underage drivers, commercial drivers, and alcohol-restricted drivers.
If you were recently stopped for a DUI or other alcohol-related offense, contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers for help. Call our team at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review. You do not have to let one mistake affect the rest of your life.
The Standard Blood Alcohol Content Limit in Utah
The standard legal BAC limit is only .05 grams. Most other states have a limit of .08%, and so did Utah until 2018. This lower limit means that it takes fewer drinks to exceed the BAC limit in Utah. Our Utah DUI defense attorneys can help you understand how the legal BAC limit applies to your case.
When your BAC meets or exceeds the legal limit of .05 grams, you can be charged with a per se DUI. This kind of DUI works the same as any other DUI, but it can be charged based on your BAC alone without additional evidence of swerving or dangerous driving. For example, someone with a high tolerance for alcohol might not feel impaired with a BAC over .05. Under the per se DUI law, they may be charged with a DUI regardless of how they feel.
For people with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), the legal limit is a bit lower. According to Utah Code § 53-3-414(1)(a)(ii), a driver with a CDL can be charged with a per se DUI if their BAC is at least .04 grams. Commercial drivers tend to be held to stricter legal standards because they drive professionally. CDL drivers charged with DUIs not only risk criminal charges but may lose their CDL and their job.
Other Blood Alcohol Content Limits in Utah
The legal limit of .05 grams is not the only BAC limit in Utah. If the police pull you over and suspect you are driving under the influence, they can arrest you even if your BAC is under .05 grams. Drivers under 21 and alcohol-restricted drivers must follow lower BAC limits. Our Layton DUI defense lawyers have experience with a variety of DUI cases and can help you challenge your charges.
Underage DUI Limit
Utah has very strict laws prohibiting underage drivers from operating a motor vehicle or motorboat with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. According to Utah Code § 53-3-231(2)(a), anyone younger than 21 may not legally operate a car with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Even if the defendant has a BAC of .01 grams and is not visibly intoxicated, they can still be charged based on the “not-a-drop” law. While underage drivers can be charged with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system, they might still face standard DUI charges if they have a BAC of at least .05 grams.
Alcohol Restricted Driver DUI Limit
Some drivers are restricted from operating a car with any alcohol in their system for other reasons. Alcohol restricted drivers are those that have been convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses but kept their driving privileges. These alcohol-restricted drivers, according to Utah Code § 41-6a-530(1), may be charged with Class B misdemeanors for driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. This is similar to the not-a-drop laws that apply to underage drivers but instead applies to all other drivers who are restricted from alcohol.
Can I Be Charged With a Blood Alcohol Content Under the Legal Limit in Utah?
The BAC limit in Utah is not the final word on DUIs. Many drivers are confused when they find out they can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC is under .05. Our Ogden DUI defense lawyers can review your case and help you fight these charges.
As mentioned, a per se DUI is charged when your BAC meets the legal limit. However, you can also be charged with DUI with lower BAC if you are too impaired to drive safely. For these charges to stick, they must prove you are unfit to drive at your current level of inebriation.
Alcohol may affect different people in different ways. While a larger person with a higher alcohol tolerance might be able to drive with a higher BAC, a smaller person who rarely drinks might be intoxicated after only one or two drinks. People are charged based on their level of impairment, not necessarily their BAC measurement.
The charges in these kinds of cases are more subjective and depend heavily on the observations of law enforcement officers for a conviction. For example, if you had a BAC of only .04 grams but were driving erratically and had slurred speech when the police pulled you over, they might have sufficient probable cause to arrest you for a DUI.
You can also be arrested for a DUI if you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs together. When combined with the effects of drugs, even a relatively low BAC can leave a driver so impaired they cannot drive safely, and they might be charged with a DUI.
Call Our Utah DUI Defense Attorneys for Help
If you or someone you know was arrested for a DUI, our Utah DUI defense attorneys can help. Even though the legal limit is .05, you can still face DUI charges with a lower BAC. Our team can help you fight those charges. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.