The Effects of Driver’s License Suspension in Utah

woman in car with drivers license suspension with suspended red stamp

The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have aggressive policies for keeping a driver off the road after a conviction for a vehicle-related offense.
The DPS and DMV can suspend your driver’s license without a hearing for many offenses. It can also order a suspension of your license after a hearing in some circumstances.
Here is a guide to the triggers for a driver’s license suspension and how a suspension can affect you.

Types of Driver’s Licenses Suspensions in Utah

Utah has two procedures for the DPS and DMV to suspend your driving privileges.

Automatic Driver’s License Suspension in Utah

If a court convicts you of certain crimes, it will notify the DPS and DMV of your conviction. Under Utah law, they must suspend your license when they receive this notice from the court.

Some crimes that require automatic driver’s license suspension in Utah include:

• Homicide resulting from driving a vehicle

• Driving under the influence

• Perjury to obtain a driver’s license

• A felony under the motor vehicle code

• Felony with the use of a motor vehicle

• Hit-and-run

• Reckless driving or impaired driving where the judge recommends license suspension

• Two or more charges of reckless driving or impaired driving

• Failure to stop when a police officer pulls you over

• Firing a gun from a vehicle

• Street racing

• Refusing to take a chemical test during a traffic stop

Under these circumstances, you will not receive an administrative hearing with the DPS or DMV before your license suspension. Instead, your opportunity to avoid suspension will come in court as you fight the underlying criminal charge.

Administrative Driver's License Suspension in Utah

The DPS and DMV can also suspend your license without a conviction. To do this, they must provide you with a hearing to challenge the suspension.

The primary grounds for an administrative suspension after an arrest comes if you refuse to take a blood alcohol test or breathalyzer test.

Utah law requires you to take a test upon the request of a law enforcement officer. When you refuse, you not only violate Utah criminal laws, but you also violate Utah motor vehicle laws.

After you refuse a chemical test, the law enforcement officer will report to the DPS and DMV. They will give you 30 days’ notice before suspending your license.

Within ten days of sending the notice, you must request a hearing, or the DPS and DMV will suspend your license.

If you request a hearing, you can challenge the statement that you refused the chemical test. However, this hearing will require you to present evidence. Consequently, you should consider hiring lawyers for driver’s license suspension in Utah before attending the hearing.

If you succeed in your challenge, the DPS and DMV will not suspend your driver’s license. But if the hearing officer rules against you, the DPS and DMV can suspend your license.

For a first-time refusal, your suspension will last 18 months. For a repeated refusal or a refusal after a DUI conviction, your suspension will last 36 months.

Effects of a Driver’s License Suspension in Utah

You cannot legally drive any motor vehicle in Utah without a license. After the DPS and DMV suspend your license, you must not drive any of the following in Utah:

• Cars or trucks

• Motorcycles

• Mopeds

• Motor scooters

• E-bikes

• Street-legal ATVs or UTVs

Utah law does not allow DUI offenders to obtain a restricted license to and from work or school. If you are caught driving for any reason during the suspension period, your suspension time will be doubled, and you will be charged with Driving on Suspension, a Class B Misdemeanor.

  • – 1st offense = 120 days
  • – 2nd or subsequent offenses = 24 months
  • – 1st refusal to submit to a chemical test = 18 months
  • – 2nd refusal to submit to a chemical test or 1st refusal with prior DUI conviction = 36 months

How to Get Your Utah Driver’s License Reinstated

There are three ways to keep your license after an arrest.

Beat Your Criminal Charges

If your charges fall on the list for an automatic driver’s license suspension, the only way for you to keep your license after an arrest is to avoid a conviction. In other words, you are working with your criminal defense attorney to get an acquittal, pleading to an offense that does not lead to an automatic suspension, or entering a pre-trial diversion program.

Win an Administrative Hearing

If the DPS and DMV have sent you a notice that they intend to suspend your driving privileges, you can request a hearing. At the hearing, your lawyers for driver’s license suspension might prevail in many ways, including:

• The arresting officer fails to appear

• The paperwork sent by the arresting officer is missing something

• Your lawyers convince the hearing officer that you did not refuse a chemical test

If you win at the hearing, you will retain your driving privileges.

Comply with Your Sentence and Request Reinstatement

In many cases, you can have your suspension shortened if you attend a drug or alcohol rehab program. For example, a 120-day suspension can end after only 60 days if you complete an approved program and pay the reinstatement fee.

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