DUI & DWI in Utah
Arrested for a DUI or DWI?
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Those who drink and drive in Utah risk being charged with two crimes: driving while under the influence and driving while over the limit―meaning with a BAC of over 0.08%. Though they sound similar, these are two different charges designed to make sure intoxicated drivers receive a DUI (driving while under the influence) conviction if their driving was merely impaired by drugs or alcohol―whether or not a chemical test showed their BAC was above the legal limit.
Even before you are convicted, a first-time DUI charge wreaks havoc with your life. Your license is immediately confiscated by the arresting officer and replaced with a temporary license that expires in 29 days. On the 30th day, the Driver License Division may suspend your license for 120 days. You may appeal this suspension by submitting a Hearing Request Form, but the Driver License Division doesn't have the same burden of proof as the court and is unlikely to second-guess the officer who thought you were impaired.
If you are convicted of a DUI, the court will usually impose the following penalties:
- Jail time.
- Community service
- A series of fines plus court costs
- The suspension of your driver license
- Treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, whether you have a problem or not
- The court may also require the installation of an "interlock" device on your car that checks your breath for alcohol before the ignition will operate.
All of these penalties may be increased or decreased at the discretion of the court, depending on your previous record and the circumstances of your arrest.
You'll probably need to take days off work to serve your jail time or community service. This can be tricky since you probably won't want to tell your boss why you need the time off. You won't be able to drive to and from work, so you'll need to find alternative transportation for several months.
Your family won't be able to rely on you to take them places (to the supermarket, to the park, to church, to grandma's house), so you'll need to find alternative transportation for them, too.
You could be assigned to a drug or alcohol intervention program at your expense. Usually you must attend mandatory weekly meetings; the courts consider this a form of "outpatient jail" that's supposed to hinder your freedom a bit. It's also the state's way of trying to help problem drinkers and drug users before they hurt themselves or others.
Once you get your driver license back, you will be on "alcohol restricted driver" status for 2 years, meaning you can't have any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood. That is, you won't be able to drive after having even one low-alcohol beer at a barbecue. For a 2nd offense of DUI, this restriction will be in place for 10 years.
When you move to another state, your driving record follows you. A DUI conviction from another state is considered a prior offense in Utah. Subsequent DUI convictions carry exponentially harsher penalties. Your driver license will be coded with information about your conviction, which may prompt an officer to look for signs of drinking should you be pulled over for a traffic violation.
These escalating penalties are designed to encourage those arrested for DUI to find other means to get around if they've been drinking―and not to drink if they're going to drive.
The Utah Driver Handbook contains a comprehensive explanation of DUI procedures.
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