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Prosecutors in Utah have a lot of paths to charge a person with a DUI. One of these paths occurs when you have any measurable controlled substance or metabolite in your body. Utah punishes this offense as a class B misdemeanor.
Here is some information about drug and metabolite DUIs in Utah.
Laws criminalizing DUI metabolite in Utah were enacted in 2020 under Utah Code Annotated section 41-6a-517. Since California and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, Utah has seen a rise in metabolite DUIs, a type of driving impairment characterized by having traces of an illegal substance in your body while operating a vehicle. A lot of people are under the misconception that they cannot be arrested for using marijuana if they have obtained it legally in another state. This is false!
Utah law had already criminalized possession of a controlled substance. This meant that prosecutors could charge drivers that bought marijuana legally in Nevada or Colorado and brought it into Utah. Utah laws still prohibit people driving on Utah roads with any measurable amount of an illegal substance or any drug that rendered the driver incapable of driving safely.
Legislators worried that drivers would use drugs like marijuana in a neighboring state and then drive into Utah after the effects had worn off. The motivation for passing this law seems questionable since driving while impaired was already illegal. This means that the new law was specifically created to catch non-impaired drivers who had drugs in their systems.
Nevertheless, under this law, operating a vehicle with any measurable amount of controlled substances in your body will expose you to a DUI. Prosecutors can also charge you with a DUI if your body contains any metabolite of a controlled substance.
A metabolite is a substance that remains behind after your body metabolizes a drug. In other words, after drugs no longer appear in your system, metabolites might still appear because they represent the byproducts of your body processing the drugs.
As a result, Utah’s metabolite DUI law can ensnare you long after you legally purchased and used drugs in Nevada or Colorado.
According to the statute, it was not intended to apply to:
● Drugs prescribed to you or their metabolites
● Medical marijuana prescribed to you or its metabolites
● Drugs ingested involuntarily
● Drugs legally ingested
The first two exceptions will be discussed later. But the third and fourth exceptions create a defense for people who have trace amounts of drugs or metabolites in their systems but no prescription.
If you and your lawyer can plausibly explain how the drugs in your system were involuntarily or legally ingested, you might escape conviction.
The penalties for a class B misdemeanor include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The state will also suspend your driver’s license for:
● 120 days if you are 21 or older
● 1 year or until you turn 21 if you are between the ages of 19 and 21
● Until you turn 21 if you are younger than 19
For drivers under 21, the suspension may be shortened to six months if you complete substance abuse treatment or education and stay clean for six months.
Under Utah DUI law, prosecutors can charge you with driving under the influence of legitimate prescription drugs if they impair your ability to drive safely.
This makes sense because some prescription drugs can affect your driving ability to the point at which you become a safety hazard. If you choose to drive after taking these prescription drugs, you risk a DUI.
The new DUI metabolite law makes an exception for prescription drugs. Prosecutors cannot charge you with DUI for having trace amounts of prescription drugs or metabolites in your system if they were prescribed to you.
Utah permits the use of medical cannabis. But driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal if it impairs your ability to drive safely.
To accommodate medical marijuana users, Utah’s DUI metabolite law has an exception for medical cannabis. As a result, prosecutors cannot charge you with DUI metabolite in Utah if the drugs or metabolites detected in your system came from medical marijuana.
If you are one of the unlucky and misinformed citizens—of Utah or any other state—who has been arrested for metabolite DUI in Utah, contact a Utah attorney who specializes in DUI defense right away to help you navigate Utah’s legal system. Schatz, Anderson & Associates’ attorneys have much of the same training that law enforcement personnel have for detecting driving impairment. We offer FREE consultations and payment plans. Contact us today to learn how we can help build your defense against drug-related charges including metabolite DUI.
We have a fully staffed knowledgeable, experienced legal team ready to help you. Schedule your consultation today!