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What Are the Utah DUI Laws?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance puts yourself and others around you at risk. Utah has strict laws around alcohol, including laws to combat intoxicated and drunk driving. The state of Utah's driving under the influence (DUI) laws are the first in the nation to lower the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05%. As a result, Utah has seen a significant drop in DUI statistics.

Penalties for a DUI conviction are harsh. You face the loss of your driver's license, possible jail time, and thousands of dollars in fines, costs, and fees.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.05 Percent
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.00 Percent
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.16 Percent
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) 120 days, 2 years, 2 years
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Utah Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Laws

Utah code prohibits anyone from operating or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

  • With a breath or a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% or greater
  • While under the influence of any drug that makes operating a vehicle unsafe
  • With a level of alcohol in your system that makes driving a vehicle unsafe
  • Under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcohol

Utah drafted its DUI law to encompass a wide range of dangerous driving behaviors. While they have set a “per se" blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% — or 0.04% if you are operating a commercial vehicle — you can still face arrest if you are below this limit but are too impaired to operate a vehicle.

All states have per se DUI laws. A per se DUI law sets a legally recognized BAC for intoxication. If you are at this level or above it, you cannot legally drive. If you do choose to operate a vehicle at this BAC, law enforcement can arrest you on a DUI charge without further proof of your impairment.

Utah is the only state in the country, so far, that has this legal limit set at 0.05%. It only takes a small amount of alcohol to reach 0.05% BAC. All other states have a per se limit of 0.08%.

Aggravating Factors

You face an enhanced DUI charge if certain aggravating factors are present. These factors may elevate your charge to a felony or increase your penalties if convicted. Aggravating factors include:

  • A BAC of 0.16% or greater
  • Transporting a minor age 16 or younger while under the influence
  • Having a passenger aged 18 or younger if you are at least 21 while under the influence
  • Prior DUI conviction within ten years
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Causing an accident resulting in serious injury or death

Implied Consent: Can You Refuse a Chemical Test?

When law enforcement suspects you are driving under the influence of intoxicants, they ask you to take chemical tests and possibly field sobriety tests. Chemical test results are evidence against you in court. Your refusal to submit to chemical tests is also evidence the court may consider.

Utah has implied consent laws, which mean that you have given consent to chemical testing when you earn a driver's license.

Law enforcement can ask you to take several chemical tests involving your breath, blood, urine, or saliva. These determine your blood alcohol level. They also look for drugs, controlled substances, or their metabolites that cause impairment.

You may decline chemical tests. If you choose not to cooperate, the law enforcement officer will immediately take your driver's license. You will receive a temporary permit for 45 days before your license suspension goes into effect. To challenge your suspension, you must contact Utah's Driver License Division within ten days to schedule a hearing.

You can face a criminal charge for refusing a chemical test. Conviction carries the same penalties as a DUI conviction.

Refusing a chemical test will cost you your driver's license for 18 months. A conviction for refusing chemical tests will give you another 18 months' license suspension. If you have previously refused within the last ten years, your license revocation will be for 36 months, with another 36 months if convicted of refusing.

If you are under 21 and refuse a chemical test, you lose your license for two years or until you reach 21, whichever time frame is longer.

DUI Penalties

For a first and second DUI without any aggravating factors, you face a class B misdemeanor charge. A third offense within ten years is a third-degree felony.

Utah is one of a few states that allow a jail sentence for a first DUI conviction.

  • Penalties for a first DUI conviction may include:
  • Minimum $700 fine
  • 48 hours to six months in jail
  • 48 hours of community service
  • Substance abuse screening
  • Substance abuse treatment, or Prime for Life course
  • Probation
  • Alcohol-restricted driver classification for two years
  • Participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program

If your BAC was 0.16% or more, or you were under the influence of drugs, your sentence will include a minimum of five days in jail or two days in prison with another 30 days of electronic monitoring. You will need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

If you are convicted on a second offense within ten years, you face:

  • Minimum fine of $800
  • Mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail or five days with an additional 30 days of electronic monitoring
  • Substance abuse assessment and treatment
  • Probation
  • Participation in the 24/7 sobriety program
  • Ignition interlock device required for two years

If your BAC was 0.16% or higher, you face 20 days in jail or ten days with an additional 60 days of electronic monitoring.

Ignition Interlock Device

A DUI conviction can lead to the required use of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID gets installed in your vehicle's ignition system. You must submit a breath test into the device before starting your car. If the IID detects a BAC of 0.02% or more, it won't allow your vehicle to start.

All DUI convictions carry an IID requirement once you can operate a vehicle again. This requirement is on your driving record. If caught driving a vehicle without an IID, you face further license suspension and fines.

Alcohol Restricted Driver Status

In Utah, if convicted of a DUI or refusal to submit to a chemical blood alcohol (BAC) test, you receive an alcohol-restricted driver (ARD) classification. You are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in your system for a period of time. Here is the breakdown based on the violation:

  • Two years for a first-time DUI, alcohol-related reckless driving, or per se DUI
  • Five years for first arrest for refusal to submit to a chemical test
  • Ten years for a second conviction for DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving, or a second arrest for refusal to submit to a chemical test within ten years of a first offense
  • Lifetime for felony DUI or automobile homicide

If you are under 21 years of age, you're considered an ARD until you turn 21.

If you violate the ARD mandate, it will result in a one-year revocation of your Utah driving privilege. Your ARD status is on your driving record, and police officers will know if an ARD is in effect for you.

Under 21 DUI

Utah has a zero-tolerance law they refer to as "it's not-a-drop law" for underage impaired driving. Anyone under 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system over 0.0% will face a DUI charge.

Since Utah takes DUIs very seriously, the penalties for an under-21 DUI are tough. You must request a hearing with the Driver License Division. You may lose your license for at least six months for a first arrest. However, the Driver License Division can revoke your license until you reach 21. You cannot have your license reinstated until you undergo a substance abuse assessment, education, and treatment, as recommended. You are subject to an ignition interlock requirement for three years once you can drive again.

Refusing chemical tests will automatically suspend your license for two years or until you turn 21, whichever timeframe is the longest.

If you don't have a driver's license at the time of your arrest, you are not allowed to apply for one for two years or until you reach 21.

Utah DUI Resources

Arrested Under Utah DUI Laws? Get in Touch With a Defense Attorney

Utah's drugged and drunk driving laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Penalties are severe and will impact your life for a long time. If you are facing a DUI charge, contact a DUI defense lawyer in Utah who can evaluate your case and inform you of your options moving forward. 

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