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Penalties for High BAC in Utah DUI Cases

DUI Defense LawyerUtah prosecutors and judges take DUI cases seriously. The Utah legislature has also imposed significant penalties for DUI convictions, including enhanced mandatory penalties when the driver is found to have had a high BAC (blood alcohol content). If you are facing prosecution for DUI in Utah, contact us today to see how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you.

Enhanced DUI Penalties at 0.16 BAC

The legal limit (as of January 1, 2019) for driving under the influence of alcohol is a BAC of .05. At that level and above, a person can be convicted of DUI without any proof of impairment. This is sometimes referred to as a "per se" DUI. At a BAC of .16 or higher, enhanced penalties are mandated by statute. Mandatory penalties at a BAC of .16 or higher include probation, treatment, and alcohol monitoring and/or home confinement.

Probation - In sentencing a defendant convicted of DUI, Utah courts are required to either impose a jail term or place the defendant on probation. For a first-time class B misdemeanor DUI, the court is required to impose a sentence that includes at least 48 hours of either jail or community service. A class B DUI carries a potential of up to 180 days in jail. If the court suspends a portion of that jail time, Utah law requires that the sentencing court place the defendant on supervised probation. Depending on which county or city the case is filed in, probation may involve supervision by a government probation agency or by a private probation provider.

Treatment/Sobriety - When the court suspends jail and imposes probation on a DUI convictions involving a BAC of .16, or higher, the court will require substance abuse treatment and/or a 24/7 monitoring program to verify sobriety. Substance abuse programs often address both alcohol and drug issues. The court has wide discretion in determining what kind of treatment program will be required. Often, judges will require that a formal assessment be done and that the defendant comply with the treatment recommendations of that assessment. The 24/7 required monitoring involves around-the-clock monitoring of program enrollees to ensure sobriety.

Interlock/Monitoring/Confinement - A judge imposing probation conditions on a high-BAC DUI case must also impose at least one of the following three requirements, and can impose more than one or all if the judge determines that more strict monitoring is appropriate. The first option is the installation of an ignition interlock system that requires a driver to blow into the system to determine whether there is alcohol in the driver's system. Typically, the court will require that a defendant install such a system in any vehicle owned by registered to the defendant, or that is available for the defendant's use. (In situations where a defendant has no access to a vehicle, a sworn affidavit may serve as a substitute for installation of the ignition interlock system.) The second option requires that a defendant wear a transdermal alcohol monitoring device that continually checks alcohol levels the the person's perspiration. The third option available to a judge is home confinement. Sometimes known as "house arrest," a home confinement program usually requires an electronic monitoring device or "ankle monitor" that tracks the defendant's location. Older versions of these monitoring systems often required the installation of a radio device attached to a telephone landline in the defendant's home that would notify probation authorities if the defendant's ankle monitor moved out of range of the radio receiver. More modern devices utilize GPS to track the actual location of the defendant, and can be used to monitor location as well as establish "no-go" zones and time schedules (allowing for participation in treatment or employment).

Probation v. Jail in Utah DUI Cases

DUI Defense LawyerKeep in mind probation is considered a "privilege" under Utah law. A sentencing judge in a DUI case has the option of imposing jail time, probation, or a combination of the two. The enhanced minimum mandatory penalties discussed in this page are based on the assumption that a defendant is being given the opportunity of probation. If the court determines that probation is not appropriate, maximum penalties on a first-time class B misdemeanor can include up to 180 days in jail and nearly $2,000 in fines and surcharges. Other enhancements can significantly increase the potential penalties for DUI cases involving repeat offenders, accidents, injuries, minor passengers, or other complicating factors. In some circumstances, enhancements can take a Utah DUI charge to the felony level.

Finding a DUI Attorney in Utah

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerDUI prosecution is taken seriously in Utah. Your defense should be serious too. If you are charged with an alcohol DUI, metabolite DUI, or other drug- or alcohol-related charges, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is critical. Contact us now to see what the right defense attorney can do for you.

Please note that the laws relating to DUI in Utah are subject to frequent change. As of January 2, 2019, statutory amendments took effect that reduced the BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 for a per se alcohol DUI. Other changes are possible. If you are charged with DUI or a related offense in Utah, consultation with an experienced attorney is strongly advised.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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