Two House Bills recently passed Utah impacting the state’s current DUI laws. All changes go into effect May 15, 2021.
Utah HB 20 outlines a new type of offender: a driver who either had a BAC over .16, a BAC over .05 plus any controlled substance, or a driver who was under the influence of multiple drugs not prescribed by a physician.
Utah HB 26 expands the 24-7 program from a pilot program to a full, state-wide program. This act also expands IID licenses to certain “low-risk” offenders, and mandates that if a judge chooses to not require an IID for a first offense, the judge must state on the record why they are diverting from the IID option.
These new laws are subject to the interpretation of the Utah courts.
Heightened DUI Offender in Utah
The act describes and penalizes a driver who operates a car with a BAC over .16, a BAC of over .05 plus a drug, or a combination of two or more drugs. These drugs do not include medicine prescribed to the driver by a physician or any THC present in alignment with Utah’s medical cannabis laws. This high-BAC driver will be referred to as a “Heightened DUI” offender. This act restricts a Heightened DUI offender from pleading their charges down to a charge such as “reckless driving” which has much less severe penalties.
- Court may suspend the jail sentence if a defendant is participating in a 24/7 sobriety program
- No option to plea down for Heightened Offender.
- Penalties for driving under the influence with children - A driver is guilty of a class A misdemeanor for each passenger under the age of 16 in the car at the time.
Utah 24-7 Sobriety Program Now Applies to All Offenders
Utah adopted the 24-7 sobriety program as a pilot in 2018. This act, effective May 15, 2021, expands the 24-7 program from a pilot program to a full, state-wide program. This act also expands IID licenses to certain “low-risk” offenders, and mandates that if a judge chooses to not require an IID for a first offense, the judge must state on the record why they are diverting from the IID option.
Sentencing Requirements for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs, or Combination
- A first-offense DUI offender shall be required to install an IID unless the court finds and states on record that the IID is “is not necessary for the safety of the community and in the best interest of justice.” The requirement for an alcohol-restricted license is currently 18 months.
- If a DUI offense has a prior DUI offense within the past 10 years, the court shall order an IID installed.
- A high BAC offender (over .16 BAC) may now be ordered to obtain a remote alcohol device, or a transdermal alcohol device, and IID, of home electronic confinement system. The remote alcohol device is the new addition. As with the law before, the judge must order at least one (or more) of these devices, or state on record why the judge is choosing to forgo one of these devices.
Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation for DUI
The Court can sentence an offender to participate in 24-7, and failing to complete 24-7 has implications for a suspended license. After the Driver License Division receives notice of a first offense for violating or failing to attend the 24-7 program, the division shall additionally suspend the offender’s driving privileges for 120 from the date of notice. The Division shall suspend the driving privileges of a second or subsequent failure to complete 24-7 for two years from the date of notice. No days shall be subtracted from that two year suspension for the time an offender spent having a temporary license. This bill also adds the option that a first-time DUI offender can be sentenced by a judge to participate in 24-7 for 30 days.
IIDs for first-time DUI Offenders in Utah
Any first-time DUI offender granted probation may not drive a car during probation unless there is an installed IID. This new code ensures that the IID is actually installed on an offender’s car, as an offender driving to probation can have it verified that their car has an IID. The IID must be calibrated so that an offender who operates with a .02 BAC or greater may not start or continuously operate the car.
Intoxalock is an Approved Ignition Interlock Provider in Utah
Intoxalock devices meet Utah state requirements and can be used to regain driving privileges. Intoxalock has more locations than any provider, so you can find one near you. To get started with Intoxalock, call (833) 623-0200.