Utah's Driver License Restrictions

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The Take-Away

  • There are two common driver license restrictions: alcohol-restricted driver and ignition interlock restricted driver.
  • Alcohol-restricted drivers cannot drive with ANY measurable amount of alcohol in their system, or they get charged with a misdemeanor offense separate from DUI.
  • Minors are automatically alcohol restricted due to their age.
  • An ignition interlock device prevents a car from starting if you blow into it and it detects alcohol.
  • Expensive ignition interlock can be required even on a first offense DUI in Utah.


Watch these videos to learn more about how we can defend your Utah criminal charges:

This article is from an interview with Utah DUI defense attorney Jason Schatz. This portion is about two common types of driver license restrictions in Utah: alcohol restriction and ignition interlock restriction.

Interviewer: One thing that I found unusual that you mentioned [in the article “Common Misconceptions about DUIs“] is the alcohol-restricted license that can be imposed. Can you tell me more about that?

Attorney Schatz: There are two common restrictions in the State of Utah. The first one is what’s called an “alcohol-restricted driver.” There are different ways to become classified as an alcohol-restricted driver. Anyone under the age of 21 is automatically classified as alcohol-restricted driver based on their age. [Read more about Minors and Alcohol here.]

If you’re over 21, the way you become classified as an alcohol-restricted driver is either you’ve had your license suspended as a result of a DUI offense, or you’ve been convicted of DUI or impaired driving. Either of those offenses will trigger the imposition of an alcohol restriction. Somebody who’s an alcohol-restricted driver is prohibited from driving a vehicle with any measurable or detectable amount of alcohol in their system. What that means is their legal limit is really .0000. No alcohol whatsoever. It’s a separate criminal charge from the DUI. If you’re alcohol-restricted and you get pulled over and you blow above the legal limit, you can actually be charged with both offenses.

If you’re an alcohol-restricted driver, for example, and you go to a barbecue, you have two beers and a burger and you drive home. But let’s say you get pulled over for speeding, and the officer smells the alcohol. He can tell just by running your license through his MDT (his mobile data transmission unit), on his laptop in his car or by calling it in to dispatch, they’ll be able to tell the officer that you are an alcohol-restricted driver. If he detects an odor of alcohol or if there’s any admission to drinking on your part, he can immediately arrest you and invoke the implied consent law to request a chemical test. If that test comes back with any amount of measurable alcohol, that in and of itself is enough to prosecute you for the crime of being an alcohol-restricted driver if you were in actual physical control or operating a vehicle.

It actually is a very serious offense. If you’re convicted of that crime, it triggers an automatic, one-year suspension of driving privileges. It carries a minimum mandatory $750.00 fine, and it’s a Class B misdemeanor just like a DUI, meaning that you’re still subject to the possibility of being sentenced to anywhere from 0 to 180 days in jail with a maximum fine of up to $1,940. Very serious.

Ignition Interlock Restriction

The second restriction is what’s called an ignition interlock restriction. An ignition interlock device, in essence, is a breath tester that hooks up to the starter of your car. Every time you want to start your car, you have to blow into it. If it detects any alcohol above a certain set point, usually 0.02 or 0.025, it disables the vehicle and won’t let it start.

The way people become ignition interlock-restricted drivers is, if their license is suspended at any point for refusing to submit to a chemical test, they will be an ignition interlock restricted driver for three years. The device costs anywhere from usually $50.00 to $100.00 to have it installed in your vehicle, and then anywhere from $75.00 to $90.00 a month to lease the machine, have it insured, and then somebody at the agency that installs it has to do a download on that machine at least once every 30 to 45 days to determine if you’ve ever attempted to drive the car after you’ve been drinking.

The ignition interlock device is also mandatory in the State of Utah in every first-offense DUI. If you’re convicted of DUI, regardless of your blood alcohol level, on the first offense, you become ignition interlock restricted for 18 months. If it’s the second offense within 10 years, then you become ignition interlock restricted for 3 years.

Interviewer: So as an alcohol restricted driver, if you’re pulled over and tested for DUI, you can still get in trouble, even if you blow below a 0.08?

Attorney Schatz: Let’s say you’re an alcohol-restricted driver and you get pulled over and you blow 0.02. You’re obviously not above the legal limit or going to be prosecuted for a DUI, but you will be prosecuted for the alcohol-restricted driver violation because you’re operating a vehicle with a measurable or detectable amount of alcohol in your system. It’s a separate offense.

In Utah, you can be arrested for blowing BELOW the 0.08 limit even if you’re not alcohol restricted. Find out how.

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