If you have been arrested for a DUI in the state of Utah, it is normal to have questions about your charges and be uncertain about the legal process, especially if it’s your first time being in legal trouble. There are several important things to know about Utah DUI laws, and what happens in a DUI case; some of the most important are discussed in this article.
Various Utah DUI Charges and Associated Penalties
Drinking and driving in Utah is treated harshly, and the laws in Utah against drinking and driving are stricter than in most other states. As of March 2017, a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) only has to register at .05 or above in Utah to be considered legally intoxicated. Most other states have a .08 BAC requirement. Factors such as BAC, along with whether or not an accident or any injuries occurred are also assessed when deciding the appropriate DUI charge. The most common Utah DUI charges and their associated penalties are as follows:
- DUI first offense: A conviction carries a maximum of 180 days in jail. There is a mandatory two days in jail that come with a conviction which can be served by doing community service if the judge allows. Your driver’s license will be suspended for 120 days upon conviction, and if your BAC was .16 or above, then you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car for at least a year.
- DUI second offense: A conviction carries a maximum of 180 days in jail. There is a mandatory 10 days in jail, or the judge can order five days in jail followed by 30 days of electronic monitoring. Your driver’s license will be revoked for 2 years upon a conviction for a DUI second offense.
- DUI third offense: A conviction carries a maximum of up to five years in prison. There is a mandatory 62 days in jail if the judge does not decide to sentence you to prison. Your driver’s license will also be revoked for 2 years upon conviction for a third DUI offense.
It is also illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system under Utah’s “not a drop” law. If you cause serious bodily injury or death as a result of driving under the influence, then you will likely be charged with a felony. If you are curious about the specific penalties that are associated with your DUI charge, then it is important that you speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Alcohol is not the only way to get a DUI in the state of Utah, as of 2020 Utah enacted laws criminalizing metabolite.
Standard Field Sobriety Tests Explained
Field sobriety tests are the different ways that an officer will examine an individual that the officer believes is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These tests typically take place on the side of the road after a traffic stop. You have probably seen police ask people to say the alphabet, or count backward, or touch their finger to their noses during a traffic stop on tv or in a movie. While these tests are not incorrect, most officers will conduct Standard Field Sobriety Tests during a DUI traffic stop. Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) are three specific tests that are validated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), and in turn, are considered the most accurate field sobriety tests.
The three Standard Field Sobriety Tests are:
- The “Walk and Turn” Test: The officer will ask the subject to walk a straight line, touching your toe to the heel of your other foot on each step, and turn around and walk back. The officer will note each time the subject steps off the line, loses balance, or if you can’t complete the task.
- The “One-Leg Stand” Test: The officer will ask the subject to lift one leg off the ground at least six inches and maintain balance while looking down at their foot. The subject will be asked to count seconds until the officer says stop. The officer will note each time the subject loses balance, sways, or touches their foot down.
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The officer will hold an object about a foot away from the subject’s face and ask them to follow the object as the officer moves it slowly from one side to the other. The officer will look to see how smoothly the eyes follow the object and if there is any fluttering or jerking of the eyes as they move back and forth.
An officer is not required to follow these tests, but every officer understands that their investigations and conduct will be examined and scrutinized by defense attorneys, so it is usually a good idea for an officer to follow these tests accurately. The officer will note his or her observations on how well the subject performed on these tests and will decide whether or not to ask the individual to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT). If the subject’s BAC comes back at .08 or above, or they refuse the breath test, then they will likely be arrested on suspicion of DUI.
How Do You Defend a DUI Charge?
There are several ways that a DUI charge can be defended, and the approach that someone should take is based on the facts and circumstances of the DUI charge itself. Sometimes, you may need to challenge the police officer’s conduct and decisions made during their investigation. Other times, you may need to challenge the BAC result and the accuracy of the breath test. Whatever your situation, the best way to approach your case is with the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney who can properly assess your case and devise the best defense plan.
Any Further Questions?
Finding a website like ours may help you answer some of your general questions, but online research should never be a substitute for the advice of an experienced attorney. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Schatz Anderson, we do this free of charge. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us at (801) 210-8793 or contact us online. Learn more about Utah’s DUI laws and penalties.