Alcohol laws in Utah set stiff penalties for comparatively minor misconduct. These penalties can include jail time, driver’s license suspension, heavy fines, and more. If you find yourself facing prosecution for alcohol-related criminal charges in Utah, it is crucial to have an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney working on your side.
An Overview of Alcohol Crimes in Ogden
This page presents a brief overview of information related to some common alcohol-related crimes in Utah. These include DUI (drunk driving), open container laws, driving with a measurable controlled substance or metabolite, public intoxication, minor in possession (MIP), selling alcohol to a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, alcohol restricted driver violations, and ignition interlock restriction violations.
Utah DUI or Impaired Driving
One of the most high profile and aggressively prosecuted alcohol related crimes in Ogden is Driving Under the Influence (DUI or DWI). A DUI charge in Utah is often based on alcohol impairment, but can also be based on impairment caused by drugs (either “street” drugs or even lawfully prescribed medications).
A DUI charge begins at the class B misdemeanor level for a first-time offender. Enhancements can increase the offense level to a class A misdemeanor or third-degree felony. Enhancements can be based on prior convictions for DUI charges, Impaired Driving, Driving with Measurable Controlled Substance, or Alcohol Related Reckless Driving (ARR). Other enhancements can be based on the presence of a child in the vehicle or on injuries caused by an accident involving DUI.
Under Utah law, the charge of “Impaired Driving” cannot be filed against a person directly. A conviction for Impaired Driving can only occur as the result of a negotiated resolution to a DUI or Metabolite charge. While it is still a class B misdemeanor, an Impaired Driving charge does not carry the same mandatory sentencing provisions and driver license suspension requirements that a DUI conviction carries.
Driving with Measurable Controlled Substance or Metabolite
Sometimes considered Utah’s “other” DUI, driving with a Measurable Controlled Substance or Metabolite does not require any proof that the driver was “under the influence” or otherwise “impaired” by the presence of a controlled substance in the driver’s system. Instead, the charge can be supported by evidence of a mere metabolite of a controlled substance in a test of the driver’s blood or urine. Penalties for a “Metabolite DUI” are similar to a DUI, and a conviction for metabolite can be used for enhancement purposes in a subsequent DUI case.
Open Container Laws in Ogden
Having an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle can result in criminal charges. Whether it’s an open bottle of beer in the hand of the driver or a near-empty bottle of wine in the back seat, if the container has had its original seal broken, it cannot be transported or placed in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
If the trunk of the vehicle cannot be accessed from the passenger area, an open container of alcohol can be carried in the trunk. However, most SUV and minivan cargo areas can be accessed from a rear passenger seat, therefore these areas cannot be used to transport an open container of alcohol.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP)
Possession of alcohol by a minor (defined by Utah law as any person under the age of 21 years) is a criminal offense. On top of time in jail and fines, a minor convicted of possessing alcohol may face a drivers license suspension.
MIP charges can be filed against anyone under the age of 21 who either consumes, possesses, purchases, attempts to purchase, or solicits another person to purchase alcohol. MIP charges can also be supported by evidence that the person had a measurable breath, blood, or urine alcohol concentration.
Selling or Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor in Ogden
Selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor is a charge often filed against a restaurant server or store clerk who accidentally sold alcohol to a person who is under the age of 21. Prosecutors can file the criminal charge against a server or cashier who may have accidentally misread the customer’s ID or became distracted during a busy time and forgot to check the customer’s ID.
This charge is not a “strict liability” offense, but instead requires proof that the defendant was reckless in determining the person’s age. Generally speaking, this means that the prosecution must prove that the defendant failed to request or adequately check the person’s age.
For example, if a minor with a very convincing fake ID successfully purchases beer from a convenience store, and if the cashier made a reasonable inspection of that ID and was not able to determine that it was fake, the clerk likely would be found not guilty of illegally selling alcohol to a minor.
A charge for supplying or furnishing alcohol can also be filed against a person who buys alcohol on behalf of a minor, or gives a minor a drink at home, at a party, sporting event, concert, or other event.
Utah “Public” Intoxication Laws
A charge of Intoxication here in Utah is often referred to as “public intoxication” because it is commonly charged for conduct that takes place in public. But a charge of Intoxication can be committed in either a public place or in a “private place where the person unreasonably disturbs another person.” The evidence must show that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another intoxicating substance. But merely being under the influence of such a substance is not sufficient. The prosecution must also show that the defendant was intoxicated to a degree that they were a danger to themselves or a danger to another person.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
The charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, under Utah law, covers a wide range of conduct. In most cases, this charge is filed against a person who helped or encouraged a minor to commit a criminal act that would violate either state or federal law. (Note that unlike an MIP charge, for purposes of this statute a “minor” is a person under the age of 18.) Helping or encouraging a minor to commit a crime related to alcohol would constitute a violation of this statute.
Violation of Alcohol Restricted Driver Laws
A person can become classified as an “alcohol restricted diver” by being convicted for various crimes (such as DUI, impaired driving, ignition interlock violations, automobile homicide). Also by refusing to submit to a chemical test for the presence of alcohol during a DUI investigation may get a person classified as an alcohol restricted driver.
Anyone classified as an alcohol restricted driver may not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle with any measurable or detectable amount of alcohol in their system. A charge for violating Utah’s alcohol restricted driver rules does not require any evidence of impairment. But the charge is still classified as a class B misdemeanor – the same level as a first-time DUI offense.
Violation of Ignition Interlock Requirements
Convictions for an assortment of alcohol-related charges can cause a person to become an “interlock restricted driver.” Under Utah law, even after the person has completed probation for the underlying criminal conviction, they may still be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle that they drive. Driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle without an ignition interlock device installed and working can result in criminal charges.
Penalties for Alcohol Crimes in Ogden
While there are some felony-level alcohol crimes in Utah, most alcohol crimes are filed at the misdemeanor level. But even a class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail.
Automobile homicide (arising from a DUI incident involving a negligent collision that causes the death of another person) is punishable as either a third or second degree felony. DUI charges can also be enhanced to the felony level based on prior convictions.