DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
DUI is a big deal here in Utah. The legislature always wants to “get tough on DUI,” then, a few years later, they decide they better get even tougher. This is how criminal lawmaking works, in general. It’s always about getting tougher; it’s never about some senator saying “hey, aren’t we tough enough on DUI already? Should we perhaps go a little easier?” That simply does not happen.
The result is a cluster of super-confusing, interrelated penalties, rules, mandatory sentences, collateral consequences and the like. Here’s some of the penalties and consequences involved in a typical DUI:
- Alcohol evaluations and mandatory treatment (with assessment fees and treatment fees),
- Required Ignition Interlock Device (with installation fees and monthly fees),
- Alcohol-Restricted Driver tag on license,
- Mandatory fines and jail sentences,
- Driver’s license suspension,
- Higher insurance premiums.
DUI is frankly one of the most convoluted areas of criminal law I know of. These penalties, and the complexity of your typical DUI case, make hiring a good defense attorney a really good idea, and often a wise use of your money. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation, and we can discuss your case without pressure or obligation, and you can decide what you’d like to do from there.
Here’s some info on Utah DUI law that you might find useful:
DUI Law and Your Utah Driver’s License
A conviction for a first DUI results in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges for 120 days if you’re 21 years old or older, and the judge may order an additional suspension of up to two years. For a second DUI, a two year suspension is automatic, and the judge may order up to an additional two years. Provisions for drivers under 21 years old are different.
UTAH DUI and Your Out-of-State Driver’s License
You might be saying, “but I have a Colorado Driver’s License! Utah can’t take away that license, can they?” Well, no. They can’t. But Utah can suspend your Utah driving privilege (meaning your ability to get a Utah driver’s license), and most states have policies in place where they will suspend your license when another state has suspended your driving privilege. So even if Utah can’t take your Colorado License for a DUI conviction, Colorado probably will.
Other UTAH DUI Penalties
For a DUI conviction without any enhancements (E.G., no children in the car, no prior DUIs, no injury caused) some of the other required penalties are:
- $700 minimum fine + $630 “Surcharge” + $40 “Court Security Fee”
- 48 hours of jail, home confinement, or compensatory service.
- Alcohol/Drug Screening and Assessment, along with an “educational series.” Note: These cost money, sometimes a lot of money if treatment is also ordered.
- Supervised Probation (if over BAC is over .16)
- Iginition Interlock Restriction on your license for 18 months (if over 21) Note: installing an Ignition Interlock Device usually results in a monthly fee as well.
- You become an Alcohol Restricted Driver for 2 years (meaning it is a crime for you to drive with ANY alcohol in your system, not just alcohol which impairs you or puts you over .08).
Required penalties for second and third DUI offenses just get more and more onerous.
Utah’s Implied Consent Law
The Implied Consent Law is basically just a way to make it easier to convict people of drunk driving by encouraging suspects to take a breath or blood test. It’s easier for the cops if a suspect “consents” to take a chemical test because a blood test is a kind of body “search” which typically requires probable cause and a warrant from a judge, and a breath test requires the suspect to actively participate: they have to blow in the tube. So how do you get the suspect to consent? Threaten to take away their driver’s license! (A driver’s license is a “privilege” and not a “right” so it’s easier for the state to threaten to take it away.)
Here’s how it works: after a cop arrests you for a DUI, she will read “the admonition,” which says that just by driving a car in the State of Utah, you “consent” to take a chemical test if you’re arrested for DUI. It also says that if you refuse to take a chemical test, you may loose your license for 18 months. (That’s longer than you will loose it if you’re actually convicted of your first DUI, by the way.) So what happens if you refuse the chemical test? Well, you will loose your license (unless you request a hearing and you or your attorney can convince a hearing officer that you shouldn’t have been placed under arrest in the first place), AND very possibly you’ll be forced to get a chemical test anyway!
If the cop has probable cause to put you under arrest for DUI, she probably has probable cause to get a warrant from a judge, and the “e-warrant” system (essentially a warrant request over e-mail) makes it pretty easy to do that quickly.