DUI Arrests in Utah May Result in Ignition Interlock Device

When an individual in Utah is arrested for a DUI, they may end up sporting an ignition interlock device in their car to keep tabs on them and prevent them from reoffending.

DUI Charges

Photo by:
Sonny Abesamis

Utah is soon to be the strictest state in regards to driving intoxicated when the BAC limit is lowered to .05% next December. When that occurs, anyone with a smidgeon of alcohol on their breath could face 48 hours in jail and a fine of $700 along with other screening and possible classes. Others, including those with subsequent offenses, minors, or those with high a high BAC may face greater challenges including loss of driver’s licenses and expensive ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock

An ignition interlock is an expensive device that is installed in a defendant’s vehicle for a determined amount of time following a DUI charge where according to Utah Code 41-6a-505 “there is admissible evidence that the person had a blood alcohol level of .16 or higher”. Ignition interlock devices may also be ordered by the courts if the driver was under the age limit to legally consume alcohol, repeat offenders, or for those who caused injury or death while driving intoxicated. ignition interlock is a built in breathalyzer, requiring drivers to blow into it to be able to start their vehicle. If the ignition interlock detects alcohol, it will not allow the vehicle to be started.

Record and report

Last year alone, ignition interlock devices were credited with stopping over 2,500 individuals from driving while intoxicated. Ignition interlocks do more than prevent a person from driving while intoxicated however. When the device detects alcohol, it electronically stores that information and shares it with the courts which could put a person in violation of their probation. Those who are facing a DUI charge or a probation violation after a failed attempt with an ignition interlock are encouraged to immediately seek counsel with an attorney to receive legal advice in how to proceed with their case.

Surge of DUI Arrests Anticipated if Lower Blood Alcohol Limit Becomes Utah State law

A bill to lower the blood alcohol limit in Utah could soon become law and will likely result in a surge of DUI arrests.

Utah pioneering the way

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Photo by: Nicolas Raymond

Up until now, all 50 states including Utah had a .08% blood alcohol limit for drivers. The only time drivers faced criminal charges for a BAC lower than .08% was if they were active commercial truck drivers who were not allowed to reach or exceed a blood alcohol limit of.04%. Now Utah may be the first state in the nation to decrease the blood alcohol limit beyond the.08% down to .05%. A bill lowering the blood alcohol limit in Utah recently passed the House and was voted 4-2 by a Senate committee. If the bill passes the senate, it will more than likely result in a spike of DUI arrests from those who enjoy a drink after work or with dinner.

Forgo that drink with dinner

Photo by: Daniel Lee

Photo by: Daniel Lee

The blood alcohol limit can vary depending on gender and body weight, as well as other factors. According to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration, if a woman weight 100 pounds and consumed within an hour one 12 ounce beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine, or a single shot of a 40% alcohol spirit, according to the revised law, she would be considered legally intoxicated. A 160 pound man would be intoxicated after consuming two drinks. A single glass of wine or a couple beers are common beverage choices for persons to consume with their meal when dining out or stopping for drinks with friends. Unfortunately since Utah is getting closer to decreasing the blood alcohol limit to .05% if HB 155 passes, restaurants may want to ensure patrons have a designated driver before offering the beer and wine list.

Blood alcohol limit revised

Blood Alcohol Limit

Photo by: West Midlands Police

The revisions to DUI laws that were passed by the House and the Senate Committee are as follows: “ A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state if the person:

(a) has sufficient alcohol in the person’s body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of [.08] .05 grams or greater at the time of the test;

(b) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or

(c) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of [.08] .05 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”

Along with an increased risk of DUI arrests for social drinkers, the revisions to the DUI laws would mean more people could face automobile homicide charges if they were involved in fatal accidents after having a drink or two. The bill would adjust Utah Code 76-5-207 to state “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, a third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of [.08] .05 grams or greater at the time of the test; ( . . . )
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of [.08] .05 grams or greater at the time of operation.”

(Near)Zero tolerance for adults

Photo by: Victor

Photo by: Victor

Utah has a zero tolerance law for DUI drivers under the age of 21 and if HB 155 passes, the law for adults would be nearly zero tolerance as well. According to Utah Code 41-6a-505, those found guilty of a DUI (from the new blood alcohol content of .05 % or more) would face:

• 48 hour incarceration or home confinement;

• $700 fine;

• 90 day license suspension;

• Vehicle impound fees; and

• Possible screening, assessment, or educational classes or treatment.

With Utah pioneering a crackdown on any driving after consuming alcohol, it is more important than ever to make sure those facing charges related to driving under the influence are represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney.

One Beer per Hour Rule May Still Result in a DUI

It is a common misconception that drinking only one beer per hour will keep an individual within the legal limit to avoid a DUI. Regardless of what online blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
calculators tell you, they cannot honestly predict how a person’s body will react to one beer or glass or wine, thus incorrectly predicting their blood alcohol concentration and putting them at risk for DUI charges.

Photo by: Patrik Kristian

Photo by: Patrik Kristian

BAC calculator or “drink wheel”

There are several sites online where a person can enter their gender, height, weight, and drinks consumed resulting in a predicted blood alcohol concentration percentage. Unfortunately, many people trust these calculators and are surprised when they still end up with a DUI.

Other factors to include

Beyond gender, height, weight, and number/types of drinks consumed, there are several other aspects that can play a part in affecting blood alcohol concentration. These include:

With or without food. When someone drinks on an empty stomach they usually feel drunk right away. This is because there is nothing in the stomach to slow the absorption of alcohol so it isimmediately absorbed into the stomach lining. Drinking with a full stomach results in a slower absorption of alcohol, causing a person to feel the effects of drinking gradually. By slowing down the absorption rate however, BAC levels are also decreased slower, remaining elevated longer than expected.

Photo by: brando.n

Photo by: brando.n

Fat or muscle. When entering a person’s weight in a BAC calculator, it should also include body fat percentage. Someone who has higher muscle content will be able to absorb the alcohol swifter than someone with high body fat due to the lack of water in the fat cells. Thus, someone with high body fat may be more likely to get a DUI if they trust a BAC calculator to determine their BAC levels.

Alcohol metabolism rate. According to the U.S. Department of Health, alcohol metabolism is “the way in which alcohol is broken down and eliminated by the body.” Everyone is different and we all metabolize alcohol at different rates depending on our level of enzymes that break down alcohol. BAC calculators work on averages only and shouldn’t be trusted to know everyone’s exact rate of metabolizing alcohol.

Don’t chance a DUI

DUI Breathalyzer

Photo by: KOMUnews

Due all the different factors that could affect the way alcohol is metabolized in the body, it is recommended to not take chances of incurring DUI charges by trusting anything other than a breathalyzer. If you drink-phone a friend, call a cab, or sleep it off. If you are already facing DUI charges, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.