What Are Utah’s Penalties for a First-Offense DUI?

Interviewer: What are the typical possible penalties for a first time DUI charge in Utah?

Court: In Utah, it’s a class B misdemeanor. It can be a class A misdemeanor if there’s an accident and there’s a bodily injury or if you’re driving with a passenger that’s underage. That can be an aggravating circumstance that makes it a class A misdemeanor instead of a class B.

Interviewer: Underage meaning a passenger under the age of 18?

Utah’s Judges are Compelled to Impose Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Court: Yes but most of the time it’s a class B misdemeanor unless there are any of those circumstances. In Utah, there are mandatory minimum sentences that the judge has to order in your case if it’s a DUI. His hands are tied by the legislature. The judge is not allowed to give you a break if you are pleading guilty to a DUI or if you’re convicted of a DUI. There are mandatory minimum sentences. One of them is jail time and it’s 48 hours. They can also order community service for 48 hours.

Your Attorney Will Argue for Community Service in Lieu of Jail Time

Most of the time we’re able to convince judges to impose community service instead of jail time, but they technically are supposed to give you at least 48 hours of community service and it suggests 48 hours of jail time.

Although, most of the time you won’t have to do jail time if you have an attorney that can make arguments that it will disrupt your work or if you have children it will disrupt your childcare, things of that nature. Judges usually understand those circumstances and will work with you.

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You Most Often Will Have to Pay a Substantial Fine for a First Offense

The other issue is a fine. The fine is going to end up being around $1,370 for your first offense. Then the judge will often order a substance abuse evaluation. That’s a program where you have to go and have a counseling center evaluate your substance abuse or your alcohol use or abuse and they decide whether or not you need to go to treatment. If they recommend that you have treatment then the judge might order you to get that treatment.

You Will Have to Undergo a Period of Court Probation

You’ll also be under a period of probation. For a first offense, it won’t be supervised probation. It’s what we refer to as court probation, which means that you have to not commit with any serious offenses other than traffic offenses during that time period.

Subsequent Offenses Will Incur Additional Penalties

If you have a DUI and you have a 12-month probation period and you commit an illegal offense, such as a theft, that’s a violation of the probation. There can be additional penalties that stem from that subsequent offense.

The Judge and the Drivers License Division May Order an Ignition Interlock Device Installation

One of the more problematic issues is the judge may order an ignition Interlock device for your case. But the real problem is that the Drivers License Division can order an ignition Interlock device even if the judge doesn’t. For a first-time DUI offense, they almost always do.

Usually, for a period of 18 months after you’re convicted, you will have to have an ignition Interlock device installed in your car. You have to pay for it to be installed and then you have to pay a monthly maintenance fee. The ignition Interlock is the device you have to blow into every time you’re going to start your car.

An Ignition Interlock Device Detects the Presence of Alcohol and Will Prohibit Your Car From Starting

Interviewer: The device is similar to having a small Breathalyzer machine in your car?

You May be Subject to an Additional License Suspension

Court: Yes. If there’s any alcohol on your breath the device won’t let you start your car. Then the judge can also order a license suspension in addition to the Drivers License Division suspension, so you might be facing, in addition to the 120-day suspension that’s automatic from the Drivers License Division, an additional suspension from the judge.

A High Blood Alcohol Level at the Time of Arrest Will Result in Additional Penalties

If your blood alcohol content is higher than 0.16, that’s what they call a high BAC. There are some additional penalties that go along with that. If you have a high BAC, the judge is required to order supervised probation, which is different than court probation. If you have supervised probation you have to report to a probation officer.

They might make you comply with certain tests, for example, urine tests. You have to report your address and if you’re moving or going out of state, you have to let them know. You also have to pay for it. It’s not really expensive, but it’s maybe $30 or $40 a month for a year. However, you will not find the experience enjoyable.

A High BAC Is Considered to be a Level of 0.16: Twice the Legal Limit

The other issue is if you have a high BAC, the court is required to make you attend alcohol abuse treatment.

Interviewer: What’s the cutoff point for the high blood alcohol level?

Court: The cutoff point for a high blood alcohol level is 0.16, so twice the legal limit of 0.08. If you blow above the 0.16 that’s a high BAC, so you have supervised probation instead of the regular court probation. The judge is required to order treatment for substance abuse, whereas if you blow below the 0.16 then the judge isn’t required to order the treatment. You’ll have to have an evaluation but the judge might not make you do undergo treatment resulting from that.

By Court Koehler

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