The DUI Process in Utah

While Utah isn’t exactly known for alcohol, it is perfectly legal to drink here as long as you do so responsibly. This means you are at least 21 years old, you aren’t causing any problems, and you don’t get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle when you are intoxicated. That last one is especially important. Not only can you get charged with a DUI or driving under the influence, you can seriously hurt someone.

What is a DUI in Utah?

In Utah, a DUI is when someone has been driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05. This is actually lower than the federal limit, which is 0.08. 

Here’s a way to understand that limit. Let’s say you are a 180 pound man. If you are anywhere else in the United States, you can have up to four drinks before you’re considered driving under the influence. However, in Utah you could only have two and a half. 

Let’s say you only have one drink. It shouldn’t be enough to intoxicate you, but you feel the room spinning. Should you get behind the wheel? The answer is no. In Utah, you can get charged with a DUI whether your BAC meets the threshold or not. Police just have to show that you were driving worse than normal, and that it was because of a substance. While that substance is usually alcohol, it can also be marijuana, prescription medication, or anything else that can impair you.

The Punishment For DUI

A DUI is a class B misdemeanor in Utah. This means you can get up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, this can become a class A misdemeanor — up to 364 days in jail and $2,500 fine — if you have a prior conviction within 10 years of this one or if you have a passenger in the car who is younger than 18.

A DUI can also become a third-degree felony, and that means time in prison of up to five years. This happens if you have two or more prior convictions or you have also been convicted of negligent operation of a vehicle that results in injury or death.

How Police Make DUI Stops

According to Sgt. Cameron Roden of Utah Highway Patrol, police often don’t know right away when someone is driving impaired. An officer will usually make a traffic stop and observe evidence that leads them to believe that the person is intoxicated.

Some of that evidence can include drug paraphernalia, open containers, and their physical appearance such as a flushed face or breath that smells like alcohol. The officer will then have the person undergo a field sobriety test to further determine whether or not the person is impaired. 

The officer may also have them blow into a portable machine called a PBT, which enables police to get an idea what the person’s BAC is. While these results can help the officer determine whether or not to make the arrest, they are not admissible in Utah courts. The results that are admissible come from an Intoxilyzer, and that test is not done until after an arrest has been made.

What To Do If You Are Charged With a DUI

If you have been accused of driving under the influence, you will want a good attorney who can guide you through the legal process. That’s true in any case. Even if you’re guilty, your lawyer can help you take the right steps to achieve the best outcome possible.

The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have been in the game for more than 20 years. They have helped countless people, and they would be more-than-willing to assist you too. For a free consultation, call (801) 532-5297.


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