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.

Strict DUI Laws Not Needed in Arrest of Intoxicated Officer

An officer with the Utah Department of Public Safety was arrested for driving intoxicated and Utah’s strict DUI laws were not needed in this case.

Concerned fellow drivers

Photo by: Ken Lund

Photo by: Ken Lund

A Utah High Patrol trooper pulled over a vehicle north of Panguitch Utah after numerous calls from concerned drivers all reported the vehicle driving erratically. The driver of the car was 35 year old Jason James Whitehead, an armed public safety officer who was more than halfway through his journey from Ogden Utah to Lake Powell for training. Local county officers called to assist noted a bottle of Vodka on the front passenger seat that was halfway empty.

Failed field sobriety tests

Whitehead was arrested for DUI, open container, and carrying a weapon while intoxicated.  Whitehead not only failed his field sobriety tests prior to his arrest, he was barely able to carry on a conversation or walk around on his own. Police reports do not indicate whether a breathalyzer was used to check if Whitehead was legally considered driving intoxicated. From the sound of the situation however, Whitehead was far from being a possible victim of Utah’s new strict DUI laws .

Strict DUI laws of Utah

Strict DUI Laws

(Edited) Photo by: Mark Goebel

The State of Utah has been receiving considerable backlash lately for its strict DUI laws that many deem unfair compared to the rest of the nation. This public outcry comes on the heels of a bill passed to lower the BAC limit in Utah to.05% which is .03% less than everywhere else in the nation who stand at .08%. This lowered BAC limit is set to become law in Utah at the end of 2018. Numerous residents of Utah are opposed to Utah’s strict DUI laws, accusing lawmakers of making money off the social (non-religious) drinker and preying on those visiting from other states who are oblivious to the strict DUI laws. Business owners in Utah such as restaurants and bars are also lamenting the lowered BAC limit as they are likely to be hit financially with the lack of revenue from lowered alcohol sales.

Go for the big fish

While the general public is grateful when a dangerously intoxicated driver such as Officer Whitehead is removed from the road, few residents want or expect every individual who enjoyed a drink with lunch to end up facing criminal charges. This does not strike the majority of people as an appropriate way to spend taxpayer dollars or how an officer should “discharge the duties of [their] office with fidelity”. For more information on Utah’s strict DUI laws or for legal counsel regarding criminal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

New Utah’s BAC Limit –Necessary Change or Hidden Agenda

With Utah’s BAC limit lowered to a mere .05%, residents are questioning whether or not the change was necessary or if there was a hidden agenda; perhaps increased revenue for the state?

Designated driver needed for a dinner date

BAC Limit

Photo by: Mark Bonica

Beginning in December 2018, anyone enjoying a glass of wine with dinner in Utah may want to call a cab or bring along a designated driver. Utah’s new lowered BAC limit will make it almost impossible for any average person to have a single drink and still be legally safe to drive. Although most distressing vehicle accidents where alcohol is a factor involve drunk drivers with a limit well over the current BAC limit, Utah went ahead and set the bar extremely low with a BAC limit of .05%, the lowest in the nation.

Tourists beware

Speaking of the rest of the nation, those planning on vacationing in Utah need to read up on laws in Utah that differ from where they are visiting from. The big change that may catch tourists by surprise is the lowered BAC limit. The rest of the country shares a similar BAC limit of .08% which Utah had also agreed upon until recently. Now those who travel through Utah, occasionally having a drink but attempting to be good citizens by staying under the BAC limit may end up with drunk driving charges; charges that are not only being called outrageous, but downright expensive.

Money, money, money

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

Photo by: Ervins Strauhmanis

While bars and restaurants throughout Utah are foreseeing the monetary repercussions the new BAC limit will have on their businesses, all Utah residents who enjoy an occasional drink may end up feeling the financial blow as well. Come December of next year, driving with a BAC of .05% or more will result in DUI charges. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Utah is a class B misdemeanor as long as no one was injured and there were no minor passengers in the car. Along with a small stint behind bars and a suspended driver’s license, driving under the influence results in a hefty fine. Although most judges will order an initial fine of $700, it usually ends up costing more than $1,300 after other fees and taxes; More than a thousand dollars for every person that is caught driving under the influence. Until recently, those drivers forking over $1,300 were the ones that pushed the “one drink with dinner” to maybe 2, 3 or more. With the new BAC limit in Utah, there is likely to be an influx of generally responsible drivers facing DUI charges and more money coming out of their pockets.

More DUI arrests equal increase revenue

Losing $1,300 can be devastating to those on a budget or for individuals and families who are living paycheck to paycheck. There are some who won’t be complaining however, and that is the state of Utah. When a hefty fine is paid, the money usually gets redistributed, with a portion going to a state treasury for programs such as: domestic violence activism; school districts; and law enforcement training. The remainder may be divvied up between the courts, cities, and other funds that are not explained entirely. In other words, the state of Utah and all its entities lose nothing with the lowered BAC limit and end up better off financially for it. The residents and business however are the ones losing.

Stay informed on BAC limit

Photo by: Nick Fisher

Photo by: Nick Fisher

It is important for Utah residents or those visiting Utah to stay informed on current laws so as not to be blindsided when they are quickly pulled over by eager to arrest officers. By limiting drinks, taking public transportation, or arranging a designated driver, it may help to keep any extra “alcohol money” from ending up in the greedy hands of the state. For more information on current and upcoming Utah laws including those regarding the new BAC limit, contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI charges.