A recent study evaluated the DUI laws in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with number one being the most strict and number 51 being the most lenient. Factors such as jail time, fines and the length of time that a prior DUI will effect a driver’s penalties should he or she face a subsequent charge were examined in order to determine the order. Utah’s DUI laws came in at number seven based on the criteria used for the study.
In Utah, an individual convicted of driving under the influence for the first time is required to spend at least two days in jail and pay fines and fees. After the first conviction, the penalties increase drastically. If a driver is arrested for DUI a third time within 10 years of a first offense, the charge is automatically upgraded to a felony, which would also increase the potential jail time, fines and fees.
However, the state does provide those accused of drunk driving with the opportunity to have the charges reduced or to negotiate a plea bargain. For instance, if a driver is arrested for DUI for the first time, he or she is not automatically going to be spending any time in jail. If the results of a blood alcohol test show that person was barely over the legal limit, the charges may be reduced to impaired driving.
Of course, this is assuming that prosecutors are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was driving under the influence. Just because someone is charged with DUI does not mean that a conviction is automatic. The circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, arrest and testing procedures need to be reviewed and substantiated before a case can move forward.
Source: heraldextra.com, “Utah DUI laws among strongest”, Kurt Hanson, June 18, 2015