Avoid a DUI in Utah (5 Things You Need to Know about DUI)

To avoid a DUI Utah, you should know at least these five things.


I.   DUI in Utah
II.  Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DUI in Utah

It’s very easy to get a DUI in Utah. All states use blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to define legal limits for driving. The standard across the U.S. is 0.08% or higher.

Utah is the only state to impose a BAC of 0.05% or higher as illegal. It’s effective December 30, 2018.

Exceeding the legal BAC limit is called driving under the influence or DUI in Utah. For drivers under 21, DUI is driving with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

dui in utahUtah has a zero tolerance for drivers under 21. However, it doesn’t require the BAC to be zero. That’s to reduce the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.

The logic of not insisting on 0.00% BAC is simple and valid. First, “breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers are not reliable. They don’t really measure BAC. (That requires analyzing a sample of actual blood.) Instead, they only estimate BAC. That’s why not all states permit alcohol breath testers.

Another problem is that everyone of every age produces alcohol naturally in their bodies. And they do so 24/7. Obviously, this includes all young drivers.

In addition, many medications and foods contain alcohol. Even bread does.

More about DUI

It’s important to know that drivers can be arrested with legal BACs. All that’s necessary is for an officer to think that the driver’s driving ability was impaired by drinking alcohol. Utah calls this “less safe” DUI.

Unfortunately, many things can make drivers appear to be intoxicated. Probably the most common is diabetes. Improper blood sugar levels cause diabetics to act intoxicated. Also, low-carb diets produce compounds that smell like alcohol. And fatigue often causes behaviors that resemble intoxication. Obviously, a “DUI under the legal limit” can cause drivers expensive headaches.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DUI in Utah vary. Many factors cause these differences. They include such things as

dui in utah

Please, no! Not her!

  • Driver’s Age.
  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • The impairing substance(s)
  • Any prior DUIs.
  • Consequences of the DUI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

Nevertheless, there are  mandated, optional, and variable penalties an optona

Drivers Age 21 or Older.

First Offense

• License suspension for 120 days. No hardship license available.
• Fine of at least $700.
• Possible supervised probation.

Second Offense

dui in utah License suspension for two years with no hardship license available.
• Fine of at least $800.
• Judge may impose (a) imprisonment for at least 240 hours. (b) Community service of at least 240 hours. Or (c) Home confinement with electronic monitoring. Offenders pays costs of electric monitoring.
• Possible supervised probation.
• Judge may order alcohol screening, assessment, education, and/or treatment. Offender pays all costs.
• Offense creates a criminal record.

Third Offense within Ten Years

dui in utah• License suspension for two years with no hardship license available.
• Fine of at least $5,000.
• Imprisonment for at least 62.5 days.
• Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) on vehicle after reinstatement of license. An IID prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the driver’s breath. Offender pays installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs.

• Possible supervised probation.
• Judge may order alcohol screening, assessment, education, and/or treatment. Offender pays all costs.

Drivers Under Age 21.

First Offense
dui in utah

Ignition Interlock Device

• License suspension for 120 days or until age 21, whichever is longer.
• Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) on vehicle for 18 months after reinstatement of license. Offender pays installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs.
• Judge may prohibit driving with any measurable BAC for two years.

Second Offense

• License suspension for two years or until age 21, whichever is longer.
• Mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) on vehicle for three years after reinstatement of license. Offender pays installation, maintenance, and monitoring costs. Learn more about ignition interlock devices .
• Judge may prohibit driving with any measurable BAC for ten years.

III. The Costs

Legal Defense

Getting charged with a DUI in Utah is very expensive, as it is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DUI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

dui in utahIt’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DUI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of a DUI is helpful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dui in utahAll states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, Utah punishes those who use their right. Their license is immediately taken and they’re given a temporary license until their trial. This happens even if they are completely sober.

The punishment for using their right is license suspension for 18 months. If drivers use their right a second time, the state doubles the suspension to three years. Also, other penalties are possible.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dui in utahNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You won’t like what you learn. But knowledge is power. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.

V. Avoid Arrest

dui in utahObviously, one way to avoid a DUI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal. Maintain a low BAC.

These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

dui in utah

Standard Drinks

  • Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
  • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
Arrested for DUI in Utah?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with a DUI in Utah, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The Utah State Bar (lawyer) Association offers a free email lawyer referral service.  Also, Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations of lawyers.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.


Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.