DUI

Utah's DUI statute, § 41-6a-502, prohibits operating a vehicle while the driver: 

  1. has sufficient alcohol in the person's body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of the test;
  2. is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or
  3. has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.

Most DUI cases in Utah are charged as a class B misdemeanor. Certain aggravating factors can cause the DUI to be charged as a class A misdemeanor or even a felony. Those factors can include the number of prior convictions or an injury caused by a crash.

*Update: Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed HB 155 into law changing the legal blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05. The Bill will take effect December 30, 2018.

Attorneys for DUI in Salt Lake City, Utah

After an arrest for drunk driving, you need a qualified and experienced attorney on your side to protect your rights. We can help you fight the case at every stage. Whether your case involves a refusal to submit to testing or a high alcohol concentration in the breath or blood, we can help you fight the charges.

Act quickly to speak with an attorney. You only have ten (10) days after your arrest to request a hearing to contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license. The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP are experienced in drunk driving defense at every stage of the case. We represent clients in Salt Lake City, and the surrounding areas including Tooele County, Summit County, Morgan County, Davis County, Utah County and Wasatch County. 

The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP are experienced in drunk driving defense at every stage of the case. We represent clients in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the surrounding areas throughout Tooele County, Summit County, Morgan County, Davis County, Utah County and Wasatch County. 

We can begin your defense today. Call (801) 532-5297. 


Administrative Suspension after a DUI Arrest in Utah

After a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will usually confiscate your driver’s license and give you a citation that operates as a notice of the administrative suspension. The citation also operates as a temporary license that expires in 29 days. You only have ten (10) days after your arrest to request a hearing to contest the administrative suspension. 

The administrative suspension is not based on a criminal conviction for DUI but is triggered by the arrest itself. For this reason, the administrative suspension is sometimes called the "on the spot" suspension.

Suspension Times After a First DUI Arrest

For drivers who are 21 or older at the time of arrest, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a first offense:

  • Per-Se arrest – 120 days
  • Refuse to submit to a chemical test – 18 months

Suspension Times After a Second DUI Arrest

For drivers who are 21 or older at the time of arrest, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a second offense:

  • Per-Se arrest – 2 years
  • Refuse to submit to a chemical test – 36 months

Suspension Times for Drivers Under 21

If the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, then the administrative suspension periods for drivers depend on whether the case involves a Per-Se arrest under UCA 53-3-223 or a Not-a-Drop arrest under UCA 53-3-231.  

If the driver is under age 21 at the time of arrest and refuses to submit to a chemical test, the license will be revoked until the person is 21 years of age for a period of two (2) years, whichever is longer, for a first offense. 

For a driver who is 19 or 20 years old at the time of stop, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a first offense:

  • Not-a-Drop arrest – 6 month suspension effective 30 days from arrest date
  • Per-Se arrest – 6 month suspension effective 30 days from arrest date

For a driver who is 18 years old or younger at the time of arrest, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a first offense:

  • Not-a-Drop arrest – 1 year suspension effective 30 days from arrest date
  • Per-Se arrest – 2 year suspension effective 30 days from arrest date

Types of DUI Charges in Utah

Utah law provides for many different types of DUI-related charges including: 

  • First DUI Offense - Class B misdemeanor unless an aggravating factor is present in which case the offense is a class A misdemeanor;
  • Second DUI Offense - Class B misdemeanor unless an aggravating factor is present in which case the offense is a class A misdemeanor;
  • Aggravating factors that establish a class A misdemeanor include the following:
    • DUI with Bodily Injury - the defendant caused bodily injury to another; or
    • DUI with a Child Passenger Under 16 - the defendant had a passenger under 16 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense; or
    • DUI with a Child Passenger under 18 - the defendant was 21 years of age or older and had a passenger under 18 years of age in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
  • Aggravating factors that can elevate a 1st or 2nd DUI offense to a third-degree felony DUI include the following:
    • DUI with Serious Bodily Injury - the defendant, caused serious bodily injury to another; or
    • DUI with a prior Automobile Homicide Conviction - the defendant was previously convicted of automobile homicide under Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-207, and the automobile homicide was committed after July 1, 2001; or
    • DUI with a prior Felony DUI Conviction - the defendant was previously convicted of any felony DUI offense.

A DUI conviction can result in serious penalties including incarceration, compensatory service, electronic home confinement, fines, screening, assessment, educational series, treatment, supervised probation, ignition interlock and license suspension. Learn more about the penalties for a DUI conviction in Utah.


Types of Evidence in a DUI Case

Most DUI cases involve a breath alcohol test with a reading over .08 (often called the breath test case). The goal in a breath test case is getting the breath test result excluded at trial because the breath test operator did not comply with administrative rules for administering the test. In some cases, your attorney can also fight to have the results excluded if the breath test machine was not properly maintained or calibrated.

Other cases involve a blood test and sometimes a urine test. The blood test is particularly common in cases with a serious accident where the driver or another person is injured and goes to the hospital.

Another common type of DUI case prosecuted in Utah involves a refusal to submit to the test requested by the arresting officer (either a breath, blood or urine test). In a refusal case, the prosecutor does not have a chemical test result showing a "per se" BAC level over the legal limit. 

Instead, the prosecutor can only prove the case with evidence beyond all reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, any drug (or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug) to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle. Evidence that the person refused testing is usually admissible in these cases.


DUI Plea Restrictions in Utah

Under Utah law, the court cannot accept a plea of guilty or no contest to a DUI charge unless one of the following occurs:

  1. the prosecutor agrees to the plea; or
  2. the charge is filed by information; or
  3. the court receives verification from a law enforcement agency that the defendant’s driver license record contains no record of a conviction, arrest, or charge for an alcohol-related driving offense that would enhance the current charge to a felony.

The DUI Plea Restrictions law passed during the 2003 General Session. The law sought to prevent defendants from pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge that should be enhanced to a felony due to prior DUI convictions.

In the past, some people escaped harsher penalties for DUI by quickly entering a plea in court before the prosecutor or court knew about prior convictions that triggered harsher penalties. In these cases, the quick plea did not allow sufficient time for law enforcement or prosecutors to review the defendant’s criminal history.

To prevent a defendant from entering a plea to a misdemeanor when the crime should have been charged as a felony, Utah’s created this law to impose plea restrictions.


Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver Suspension

Beginning on July 1, 2012, the driver's license of a person with an interlock restricted license faces a suspension. The suspension may be reinstated by paying a reinstatement fee to the Driver License Division and having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in the vehicle.

The driver’s license will be re-suspended if the ignition interlock device is removed from the vehicle before the ending date of the alcohol restricted driver restriction period.

IID Suspension after a First DUI Conviction

As provided in 41-6a-518.2, after a conviction for a first DUI, the driver is automatically restricted to driving a vehicle that has an IID installed for eighteen (18) months from the date of conviction or the effective date of the license suspension.

For a person under 21 at the time of the arrest who is convicted of a first DUI, the driver is automatically restricted to driving a vehicle that has an IID installed for three (3) years.

IID Suspension after a Second or Subsequent DUI Conviction

For a second DUI conviction for DUI Impaired Driving, or Alcohol-Related Reckless Driving violation, or if the person’s license was revoked for refusal to submit to a chemical test after being arrested for driving under the influence, the driver is automatically restricted to driving a vehicle that has an IID installed for a period of three (3) years from the date of conviction or effective date of the revocation.

A Felony DUI carries a six (6) year IID restriction. An automobile homicide carries a ten (10) year IID restriction.

Violation of the IRD Law

If an individual drives a vehicle without an IID installed then the driver may be cited for violating the Interlock Restricted Driver (IRD) law. A conviction for violating the IRD law will result in a driver license revocation for one (1) year and an additional three (3) year IID restriction from the date of conviction.

Also, if the driver is arrested for violating the IRD Law when they are restricted, the vehicle may be impounded.


Additional Resources

Utah Guidelines DUI Sentencing Matrix 2015 - Visit the website of the Utah Sentencing Commission. The USC has the statutory responsibility of advising the legislature on issues regarding sentencing for adults and juvenile offenders. The USC publishes guidelines, conducts research, and responds to public inquiries.

2015 Utah Adult Sentencing and Release Guidelines - Visit the website of the Utah Sentencing Commission for more information.


Finding a DUI Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

Call the DUI attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat to discuss your case. Whether your case involves a breath test, a blood test, or a refusal to submit to testing, we can help. We represent both adult drivers and young people under the age of 21 charged under Utah's zero tolerance statute. With offices conveniently located in Salt Lake City, we are ready to meet with you to discuss your case. Find out what you need to do right now to protect your rights.

Our lawyers represent clients in Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas including Tooele County, Summit County, Morgan County, Davis County, Utah County and Wasatch County. 

The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP represent men and women charged with drunk and drugged driving crimes throughout Greater Salt Lake including the communities of Riverton, Holladay, Taylorsville, Magna, Kearns, Midvale, Herriman, Copperton Township and Millcreek.

Our criminal defense attorneys DUI cases throughout Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas. Let us help you at each stage of the case as we fight for the best possible result. Call today for a free consultation at (801) 532-5297.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, April 11, 2017