Drunk, Impaired & Drugged Driving Criminal Charges

Utah Trial Lawyers

UTAH DRUNK DRIVING, IMPAIRED DRIVING AND DRUGGED DRIVING CRIMINAL CHARGES

Utah’s drunk and drugged driving can be found in the Utah Traffic Code at 41-6a-Part 5 (2017). In Utah, there are three main types of drunk/drugged driving statutes. Impaired driving in Utah legally means that you are under the influence of illegal drugs, alcohol, or legal drugs, or a combination of all three and these substances impair your ability to drive a car in an area open to the public.

Here are Utah’s three main impaired driving statutes:

DUI

(1). DUI. Driving Under the Influence. 41-6A-502 (2017). As of 2017, it is illegal to have actual physical control of a car with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) over .08. Effective 12/30/2018 Utah will lower the illegal drinking blood alcohol content to .05 from .08 for DUIs.

The Utah DUI statute is written so you can get a DUI even when you blow less than a .08, but are still driving under influence because you have other drugs in your system, which in combination causes you to operate a car while under the influence.

IMPAIRED DRIVING

(2). Impaired Driving. Impaired driving is where you have an alcohol breath content of less than .08, but you are still legally impaired in your driving ability, thus endangering the public. Impaired driving is found at Utah Code Ann. 41-6a-502.5.= (2017).

METABOLITE DUI

(3). Metabolite DUI. A metabolite driving offense is where you drive a car in Utah with any amount of illegal drugs in your system. Regardless of whether you were impaired at the time of driving, or a month earlier when you smoked some marijuana.

PENALTIES:

Bail Schedule.

Utah Misdemeanor courts use the Uniform Fine/Bail Schedule. It is the intent of the Uniform Fine/Bail Schedule to provide assistance to the sentencing judge in determining the appropriate fine or bail to be assessed in a particular case and to minimize disparity of fines/bails imposed by different courts for similar offenses. The schedule is not intended to deprive nor minimize the authority of the court to impose a sentence deemed just in the discretion of the judge. Just Google “Utah Fine Bail Schedule” for a complete recommend fine schedule for Utah criminal charges.

Utah DUI.

(1). DUI Sentencing Matrix—

 

UTAH DUI SENTENCING MATRIX (Current as of June 2012)
Court-Ordered Sentecing Misdemeanor DUI Felony DUI
First Offense Second Offense w/in 10 years
CLASSIFICATION
(S41-6A-503)
CLASS B MISDEAMENOR
CLASS A MISDEAMENOR

  • if bodily injury1
  • if passenger is under 16
  • if passenger is under 18 and driver under 21 or older
CLASS B MISDEAMENOR
CLASS A MISDEAMENOR

  • if bodily injury1
  • if passenger is under 16
  • if passenger is under 18 and driver under 21 or older
THIRD DEGREE FELONY

  • if 3rd or subsequent offense within 10 years
  • if bodily injury1
  • if any prior felony DUI or automobile homicide conviction
Jail
SHALL Order:
(S41-6A-505)
  • 48 hours consecutive hours OR
  • 48 hours compensatory service OR electronic home confinement
  • 240 hours consecutive hours OR
  • 240 hours compensatory service OR electronic home confinement2
  • 0-5 years or
  • 1,500 hours Jail (62.5 days)
  • MAY Order: electronic home confinement2
Fine
SHALL Order:
(S41-6A-505)
  • $700 minimum plus surecharge
    See Serious Traffic Offense Matrix for Total Fines
  • $800 minimum plus surecharge
    See Serious Traffic Offense Matrix for Total Fines
  • $1,500 minimum plus surecharge unless 0-5 term imposed.
    See Serious Traffic Offense Matrix for Total Fines
Screening,
Assessment,
Education Series,
Treatment
(S41-6A-505)
SHALL Order:

  • Screening
  • Assessment (if found approp. by screen)
  • Education Series, unless treatment is ordered
  • MAY order treatment
SHALL Order:

  • Screening
  • Assessment (if found approp. by screen)
  • Education Series, unless treatment is ordered
  • MAY order treatment
SHALL Order:

  • Screening
  • Assessment (if found approp. by screen)
  • Intensive Treatment or inpatient treatment and aftercare for not less than 240 hours, unless 0-5 prison is imposed
Probation3
(S41-6A-507)
  • MAY order supervised probation
  • SHALL order supervised probation
  • SHALL order supervised probation3 if 0-5 prison term not imposed
Ignition Interlock4
(S41-6A-518)
(S41-6A-530)
  • MAY order ignition interlock
  • SHALL order interlock if under 21
  • SHALL order interlock for ARD5 viaolation OR
    describe record why not appropriate
  • MAY order ignition interlock
  • SHALL order interlock if under 21
  • SHALL order interlock for ARD5 viaolation OR
    describe record why not appropriate
  • MAY order ignition interlock
  • SHALL order interlock if under 21
  • SHALL order interlock for ARD5 viaolation OR
    describe record why not appropriate
High BAC
(.16 or higher)
(S41-6A-505)
  • SHALL order supervised probation3
  • SHALL order treatment and interlock4 and/or home confinement2, OR
    describe record why not appropriate
  • SHALL order supervised probation3
  • SHALL order treatment and interlock4 and/or home confinement2, OR
    describe record why not appropriate
  • SHALL order supervised probation3 if 0-5 term not imposed
  • SHALL order treatment and interlock4 and/or home confinement2, OR
    describe record why not appropriate
License Supsension
(S41-6A-509)
  • Court MAY order additional 90 days, 180 days, 1 year or 2 years
  • Court MAY order additional 90 days, 180 days, 1 year or 2 years
  • Court MAY order additional 90 days, 180 days, 1 year or 2 years

1 A person is guilty of a separate offense for each victim suffering bodily injury, serious bodily injury or death, whether or not the injuries arise from the same episode of driving.

2 See S41-6A-506 for Electronic Home Confinement provisions

3 Supervised probation is also required for all violations of S41-6A-517 (driving with any measurable controlled substance in the body)

4 Adoption of the interlock restricted driver (IRD) provisions (S41-6A-518.2) does not change the obligation of judges to impose interlock as condition of probatoin 5Alcohol restricted

Drive Source: Utah DUI Sentencing Matrix (2011)

 

SERIOUS TRAFFIC OFFENSES
PRIOR RECORD DUI, DUI with injury, and DUI with Minors in Vehicle
(UCA 41-6A-502)
Impaired Driving
(UCA 41-6A-502.5)
Revocation
(UCA 53-3-227)
Hit & Run
(UCA 41-6A-401)
No Insurance
No Proof of Insurance
(UCA 41-12A-302 & 41-12A-303.2)
3 or More Offenses
  • 3rd Degree Felony: $2,890.00
  • 3rd Degree Felony: $2,890.00
    (Serious Bodily Injury)
Not Applicable Not Applicable
  • $1,890.00
  • $970.00
Not Applicable
2nd Offense
  • 3rd Degree Felony: $2,890.00
    (Serious Bodily Injury)
  • MA: $1,950.00
    (Serious Bodily Injury or Minors in Vehicle)
  • MB: $1,610.00
Not Applicable Not Applicable
  • $970.00
  • $690.00
Salutatory Mandatory Minimum $1,000.00
1st Offense
  • 3rd Degree Felony: $2,890.00
    (Serious Bodily Injury)
  • MA: $1,950.00
    (Serious Bodily Injury or Minors in Vehicle)
  • MB: $1,420.00
Class B: $1,420.00 Class B: $790.00
  • $690.00
  • $230.00
Salutatory Mandatory Minimum $400.00

Amounts included surecharge and security charge
For Purpose of DUI Law, prior offense means conviction withing the last 10 years

 

Utah Impaired Driving (First Offense).

(1). Fine: $1,460. (2). No driver license sanction. (3). No interlock. (4). Court Probation. (5). Alcohol/drug evaluation and treatment follow through.

Utah Metabolite Offense (First Offense).

(1). Fine $680. (2). No interlock. (3). Court Probation. (5). Drug evaluation and treatment follow-through. (6). Yes. Driver license sanction.

DEFENSES TO UTAH DUIs

Defending Utah DUIs, whether an impaired driving, metabolite or straight DUI is complicated and requires specialized knowledge about Search and Seizure law, Field Sobriety Testing, Breathalyzer Machines and a host of other intricate details that can render a DUI arrest illegal.

(1). Search and Seizure Law. Both the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution mandate that “the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . .” 4th Amend. US Const. The Utah State Constitution has similar impact and language.

Good Utah DUI criminal defense attorneys are always ensuring that their client’s constitutional rights are not violated when they are pulled over for a traffic stop. The traffic stop must be valid and any continuation of the stop past what is legally necessary must be justified under the law. You can’t be forced to wait one hour for the drug dogs to show up. Now is it reasonable for a simple speeding stop to last an hour.

A few things to tell the police are: “Am I free to leave?” or “Am I under arrest?” “If I am free to leave, I am leaving now.” “If I am under arrest, then arrest me, and give me my Miranda rights.”

Basically, law enforcement needs to investigate and make an arrest, or not. There should be no delayed or prolonged interrogations or stops.

(2). Miranda Rights. When you are under “Custodian Arrest” as the United State Supreme Court has articulated that term, you are entitled to your Miranda rights. Not before Custodial Arrest. Custodial Arrest means law enforcement has deprived you of your liberty and often you are handcuffed. Interrogation has meant that you are in custody and the police are asking you specific questions about possible criminality. There is an entire “Totality of the Circumstances” test that is far beyond the scope of this article, but be aware of your right to remain silent. A good Utah DUI attorney will be looking for constitutional violations of your Miranda Rights.

(3). Probable Cause to Arrest You for DUI.   The third main defense is that police did not have enough evidence based on the totality of the circumstances to formulate Probable Cause and arrest you for drunk driving.

In the spectrum of legal evidentiary burdens, you have A). Reasonable Suspicion. B). Probable Cause. C). Preponderance of the Evidence. D). Clear and Convincing Evidence, and E). Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. This list is in increasing amount of evidentiary weight until you get to the “Mother” of all legal burdens—Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

The police start formulating Probable Cause from the minute they clock your car moving. Is your car swerving? Did you not use your blinker for a full two seconds? Was the light over your license plate not working? Secondly, law enforcement starts accumulating articulable, objective facts when they have you stopped and approach your car. This is called “Contact with the Driver.” Did the police officer observe you hiding objects? Were you making jerking movements in your car as the officer approached? Did your passengers start to run? Are you in a high crime area? Does the officer smell alcohol when you are speaking? Do the cops know you from past dealings?

The police officer is gathering information from the traffic stop to the approach to your car. If the evidence leads the police officer, he can ask you do perform Field Sobriety Tests (“FSTs”). FSTs are not mandatory, you do not have to perform FSTs. The police will not tell you this and they will even demand it from you, but you have no obligation to perform them. FSTs are used by the police to further articulate their Probable Cause to arrest you for drunk driving. Without the FSTs, a police officer’s case is more difficult, but not impossible.

A good Utah DUI attorney will investigate whether the police officer has sufficient Probable Cause to initiate a Utah drunk driving offense. Having Probable Cause is key because once arrested for a Utah DUI you must take the Breathalyzer or risk losing your driving license for a long time. When you applied for your Utah driving record, you already implied consented to take a breath or blood draw when asked to by the police who have Probable Cause that you are driving drunk.

The bottom line is the police can’t get to the mandatory breathalyzer unless they have Probable Cause to arrest you for drunk driving.

Portable Breath Test. You don’t have to take one. Insert statute here.

IMPAIRED DRIVING DEFENSES

Most every defense to DUIs applies to defending Impaired Driving criminal charges. Impaired driving is different from Utah DUIs in that with Impaired Driving cases, you are not presumed to “Per Se” drunk driving. Utah DUIs have the .08 BAC levels which helps ease the prosecution’s case. With impaired driving, the prosecutor must prove that you were impaired from legal drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol or a combination thereof.   Proving you were impaired is more difficult than a straight Utah DUI.

Therapeutic Range Defense. Many Utahns are legally prescribed controlled substances to improve their quality of life. These legal prescriptions can be pain killers, or psychiatric medicine. The law in Utah is that even when using lawfully prescribed controlled substances, if you are impaired in your driving ability, you can still be charged with Impaired Driving. Just because your doctor prescribed you Oxycodone for your back injury, if the side effects impair your driving ability, you will have legal problems.

If you are taking your prescriptions within therapeutic and doctor prescribed ranges, the prosecution will have to heavily rely upon your driving pattern and FSTs. The defense arises that many people accidentally weave or have poor physical abilities concerning FSTs. This does not mean they’re illegally impaired while driving. It just means they suck at the Summer Olympics and can’t stand on one foot for an hour, or have a bulging low back disc causing pain.

Non Therapeutic Range Defense. Even if you are using your prescription drugs in a manner not prescribed by your doctor, it does not mean that you are impaired. Sure, if you are using ten-times the prescribed dosage, you are weaving and miserably fail the FSTs, you will still be arrested for Impaired Driving. But again, weaving and poor balance does not mean you are impaired while driving. Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide whether you were impaired while driving. The jury will take into consideration all factors, such as your driving pattern, FSTs compliance, speech, eyes, body camera footage, etc. to make the ultimate determination of whether you are impaired

Actual Physical Control Defense.

To be prosecuted for a DUI, you must be in “Actual Physical Control” of a motor vehicle in an area open to the public. Generally, this is easy for the police to prove. They just note that they saw you in the driver’s seat when they pulled you over. They even have a box to check on their DUI form where they describe how you were in “Actual Physical Control.”

The Utah DUI case gets harder when you are found passed out in your vehicle in a public parking lot. Did you really intend to drive your car? Where you really just trying to get some sleep and not drive around?   Does it count that you are drunk in a taxi cab with someone else driving? Is that also Actual Physical Control?

Ultimately, it will be the jury who decides whether you are in actual physical control of the car sufficient enough to find you guilty of drunk, drugged or impaired driving.

CONCLUSION:

Utah DUI, drugged or Impaired driving cases are complicated. Should you be charged with a drunk driving offense, call the trial lawyers at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC for a free consultation concerning your criminal charges.

Call (801) 373-6345.