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How Often Do First Time DUI Offenders Go To Jail?

How Often Do First Time DUI Offenders Go To Jail

DUI is considered a serious offense and carries penalties for 1st offense DUI Utah cases. Because of the potential for causing injuries and fatalities to other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, DUI is an offense that can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and the number of convictions an offender has within a certain time period. Knowing the definition of DUI, how DUI is determined, and how it is prosecuted can help drivers avoid the penalties associated with a 1st or subsequent offense. We’ve previously written about a DUI Lawyer Salt Lake City here.

DUI Defined

DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. Motorists may be driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both substances. There are two parts to a 1st offense DUI Utah case. One takes into account the level of impairment of the defendant. This level can be determined when law enforcement officers are talking to the individual or when field sobriety tests are performed. Officers will often make notes about slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the odor of the driver, and how the driver is acting. Sobriety tests are performed to determine if a driver is impaired. When these tests are administered, officers look for stumbling, falling, tripping, and other signs that a driver may have been drinking. The other component of a 1st offense DUI Utah case is blood alcohol level. This level is determined with chemical testing of a suspect’s blood, urine, or breath. In Utah, the legal limit for blood alcohol level is 0.08%. If this limit is met or exceeded, a driver is considered to be under the influence, even if they do not show any physical signs of impairment.

1st Offense DUI Utah Prosecution

How a DUI case is prosecuted depends on a number of factors. The age of the person being charged, their blood alcohol level at the time of arrest, any injuries or property damage caused by the defendant, and any prior convictions are considered. DUI is often a misdemeanor charge, but it can be charged as a felony if the defendant has had a number of prior convictions or if serious injuries have been caused. The prosecutor in the case will rely on chemical testing results and statements from law enforcement officers to try to convict those charged with driving under the influence.

1st Offense DUI Utah Administrative Penalties

If convicted of driving under the influence, two sets of penalties are imposed. The first penalty is administrative in nature and is imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. For a 1st offense DUI Utah case, the penalty is a four-month license suspension period. If the convicted driver refused chemical testing, the penalty is a one-year license suspension, even if they are not convicted in a criminal trial at a later date. The administrative penalties increase with each subsequent driving under the influence offense.

1st Offense DUI Utah Criminal Penalties

There are a number of criminal penalties that can be imposed for a 1st DUI offense in the state of Utah. The courts consider a number of factors when imposing these penalties on offenders. If the convicted offender’s blood alcohol level was extremely high, or if injuries or property damage occurred, the sentence may be harsher. Jail time of 96 hours to 6 months can be imposed, along with fines up to $1,000 and a six-month license suspension. Offenders are also expected to attend alcohol education classes.

1st Offense DUI Utah Ignition Interlock Device Penalty

Some offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device install in every vehicle they own. An ignition interlock device is a device that is installed in a vehicle and tests a breath sample of an offender each time they attempt to start the engine. If the offender has any alcohol in his or her breath, the vehicle will fail to start and they will be unable to drive. These devices have both proponents and critics. Those who support ignition interlock devices think they cut down on driving under the influence. Critics of the devices believe they do not work because offenders could easily ask a friend or relative to breathe into the device if they have been drinking. The device would read that breath sample and allow the vehicle to be started even if the offender had been drinking. This can allow repeat offenders to get away with driving under the influence even though ignition interlock devices are supposed to prevent it from happening.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, chances are you too are asking yourself if you really need a DUI Lawyer or not. The answer will depend highly on your situation. If this happens to be your first offense ever, and there are no other offenses, then you might be able to get by without a lawyer. However, if you are a repeat offender you will definitely need the help of a DUI Lawyer as the law is stricter on those who fall in this category. Before deciding if you need a lawyer or not, make sure you get to know the DUI laws of your state. Find out how much fines or jail time you will need to do if you fail your own case. This will help you to reach the right decision.

If you have chosen to get a lawyer, you have made a good choice. The lawyer would have more back ground and experience than you and will be better able to help you get a lower jail time or fine. If you feel that you might not afford a lawyer, try discussing the payment plans with them first. Law firms often have payment plans such as credit payment plans, discounts and flexible payment plans to help you engage their services.

There are a few things you should consider when finding and choosing your lawyer:

· Find a lawyer that specializes in DUI cases as they will be better versed with the court system and prosecutors so they can negotiate a better deal for you.

· Make an appointment for a consultation with the lawyer. This should be done free of charge as this is merely a consultation, you are not hiring them yet. You should be able to decide if you want to work with them by the end of the discussion and they would have explained to you what to expect when you have to stand trial.

· Find out how much everything will cost you. Find also if there are any added fees that you would have to pay that is not included in the representation fees. Also ask about circumstances that would increase the cost even more and if they are willing to offer you a payment plan.

· Meet up with at least 2 or 3 lawyers so you would have at least 2 or 3 price quotes. Choose the one you think is best for you. Besides, meeting more lawyers will provide you with more information to make the right decision.

· Read up on the laws concerning DUI so that you are up to date on the current news on fines and jail times. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.

As with any criminal charge, a person charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is established (often through the defendant’s own plea or after a jury trial), the penalty will depend on state law, as well as on any aggravating circumstances (such as the presence of an open bottle of liquor in the car) and the defendant’s cooperation with the police.

Jail Time

In all states, first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor, and punishable by up to six months in jail. That jail time may be increased under certain circumstances. For example, some states mandate more severe punishments for DUI or DUI offenders whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest was particularly high—for example, .15% or .20%, very high considering the legal limit of .08%. Currently Utah has a .05% limit.

Many states also require minimum jail sentences of at least several days on a first offense. Subsequent offenses often result in jail sentences of several months to a year.

For a DUI or DWI that’s been classified as a felony—either because the driver killed or injured someone or because it’s the driver’s third or fourth DUI—jail sentences of several years are not uncommon. Again, this depends on state law, the facts of the case, and the discretion of the judge at trial.


In addition to jail sentences, courts can and do impose high fines for DUI or DWI. These range from $500 to as much as $2,000.

Driver’s License Problems

A DUI or DWI offender stands a good chance of having his or her license suspended for a substantial period of time (either by court order or mandate of the state motor vehicles department). For example, many states suspend a first offender’s license for 90 days; a second offender’s license for one year; and a third offender’s license for three years.
Refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test can result in a license suspension regardless of the finding of guilt, in addition to other penalties in many states.

However, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a “hardship license” to drive to and from places like work and school during a suspension.

Some states take further steps to make sure the person (particularly a repeat offender) doesn’t get back on the road. The state may confiscate the car or cancel its registration, either temporarily or permanently. Or the state may require an ignition interlock device (IID) to be attached to the DUI or DWI offender’s car. This device requires the driver to blow into a small handheld alcohol sensor unit attached to the dashboard. If the person’s BAC is above a preset level (usually .02% to .04%), the car won’t start.

Alternative Forms of Punishment

A number of states’ court sentences may include alternative sentencing, such as alcohol teaching and prevention programs, treatment for alcohol abuse, assessment of a person for possible alcohol or drug dependency or addiction, and community service or victim restitution. The judge may recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines, most likely for a first offender. Or the judge may combine them with other penalties. In Texas, for example, minors convicted of a DUI must perform community service, in addition to any other penalties.

Young Offenders

A minor who is arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs won’t get any breaks from punishment — in fact, being young is likely to make matters worse. The legal drinking age is 21 in most states, so drinking before that age is a separate crime.
In addition, some states penalize underage drivers based on lower BAC levels than the standard .08% for adults, typically .02%. The state may impose adult sentences on minors, and underage DUI offenders are likely to have their licenses suspended for one year.

Other Consequences

In addition to legal penalties, the driver’s insurance company may cancel the insurance policy or drastically increase the rates because of the hit to the person’s driving record. And a drunk driving charge stays on a person’s driving record for many years. Plus, if the driver’s license is suspended, the insurance company is likely to cancel the insurance policy.
Certain jobs may be closed to those who’ve been convicted of DUI or DWI, such as driving a school bus, delivery van, or any other vehicle as part of their employment.

Finally, the driver may face a separate civil lawsuit if accident victims decide to sue for property damages or bodily injuries.

Criminal DUI Defense Attorney Free Consultation

When you need legal help and protection from a DUI criminal charge in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506