When you are charged with a DUI in Utah, you may be inclined to plead guilty to avoid legal fees, resolve the matter as soon as possible, and do the right thing. Unfortunately, your desire may end up backfiring on you. Utah courts have a record of leveling severe penalties and fines against even first-time offenders. You could face the maximum penalties for a first conviction:
- Six months in jail, community service or house arrest
- A $1,850 fine
- License suspension for two years
- Alcohol screening and treatment
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
- Enrollment in PRIME for Life course
In addition to these penalties, you are also marked as an alcohol restricted driver. This means that if you are drive with any alcohol in your system at all, you could lose your driver’s license for one year.
What you can do
Your Utah drunk driving case is two-pronged. There is an administrative aspect as well as a criminal aspect.
Administrative: In this part of your case, you can fight your license suspension. You have the right to a hearing with the Utah Driver License Division if you request on within 10 days of your arrest. At this hearing, the arresting officer must prove that he or she had reasonable grounds to believe you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your arrest. It doesn’t matter if the police officer’s suspicions were wrong as long as he or she had reasonable grounds for arresting you. You best chance of winning a driver license hearing is if you hire an attorney to help you fight to keep your license.
Criminal: When you plead guilty or no-contest to a DUI charge, you can expect to be automatically convicted of a class B misdemeanor and sentenced as the judge sees fit. If you choose to plead not guilty, you may be able to work with the prosecution to find a resolution and avoid a court trial – a conversation that will be much more to your benefit if you consult a Utah DUI lawyer. If a reasonable arrangement with the prosecutor cannot be worked out, you have the right to have a jury decide your case after a trial.