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DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence.” DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” or in some cases, “driving while impaired.” The terms can have different meanings or they can refer to the same offense, depending on the state in which you were pulled over. In any case, DUI and DWI both mean that a driver is being charged with a serious offense that endangered themselves and others. That applies to alcohol and other drugs (including recreational drugs and those prescribed by a physician) that impair your ability to drive. One is not worse than the other and both can have a big effect on your life. Depending on state law, both terms are used to describe impaired or drunken driving. Some state laws refer to the offense of drunken driving as a DUI while others call it a DWI. It gets tricky when states use both terms. Quite often, one term will refer to alcohol, while the other term refers to impairment by substances other than alcohol (like prescription or recreational drugs) and the meaning can flip-flop from state to state. Some states use the term DWI to refer to driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. In those states, the term DUI is used when the driver is charged with being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other states use DWI to refer to driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or some unknown substance. They use the term DUI to refer to driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s best to check the definitions of the state you’re in.

Other Factors in Impaired Driving

Any of these charges mean the arresting officer has reason to believe the driver is too impaired to continue to drive. In some jurisdictions, drivers can be charged with impaired driving (or driving under the influence) even if they blow under the 0.08 legal limits. For example, you can fail a field sobriety test and be deemed impaired even if you’re BAC is less than 0.08. All states also have zero-tolerance laws that punish people under 21 for driving with any trace of alcohol in their systems. This means that if someone under the age of 21 blows a BAC higher than 0.00, they will be charged with a DWI or DUI.

Drugged Driving Is Impaired Driving

If you appear to be impaired by the arresting officer, but your breathalyzer test shows that you are not under the influence of alcohol, they may suspect the use of drugs that impair your driving ability. This can include prescription and nonprescription medications in addition to illegal drugs. The officer may then call a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officer to the scene to perform a series of tests. If the DRE officer’s multi-step evaluation process determines that you are indeed under the influence of drugs, you can be charged with DWI or DUI. The charge depends on what the state calls the offense of drugged driving. Taking prescription or nonprescription medications can impair your driving ability. You are at risk of drugged driving charges even when you have not had a sip of alcohol.

Arrest and Consequences

No matter what the offense is called in your jurisdiction, if you are arrested for impaired driving, you will be facing serious consequences. If you are convicted or plead guilty, you will probably lose your driver’s license and pay fines and court fees. For a second offense, you may spend some time in jail. It is also likely that you will be placed on probation and be required to perform community service. To get your driver’s license back, you will probably have to attend defensive driving classes. In most states, you will probably undergo an evaluation of your drinking or substance use patterns as well. Based on the results of that evaluation, you may have to take part in a drug or alcohol treatment program. That program could range from attending a few support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous to entering a residential treatment facility.

After a Conviction

When you get your driver’s license back, you will likely need SR-22 insurance. This could double or triple your premiums, depending on the laws in your state. On average, you can expect to pay higher premiums for three years. Depending on the state in which you reside, you may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, which makes it so you can’t start your car unless you blow into the device and it determines you have not been drinking alcohol. This requires that you pay for the device, its installation, and a monthly monitoring fee. A DWI penalty or worse multiple offenses can not only jeopardize your driving privileges but can leave you with heavy fines, court costs, and possible jail time. This can affect your personal and professional life, which is why you need to know about the possible DWI penalties you could face in Utah. If it’s your first time being charged and arrested with a DWI, your penalties will likely be less severe than someone who is charged with multiple DWIs. But keep in mind, the penalties for a first time DWI conviction can still be steep. First offense penalties for a DWI with less than a 0.15 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) includes possible fines of around $2,000 and or a jail sentence of anywhere between three and 180 days, plus a license suspension of 90 to 365 days (Class B Misdemeanor). If the BAC is greater than 0.15, then there’s a chance of a fine increase of $4,000, and jail for up to a year (Class A misdemeanor). If you are a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.08 to .14, then you could apply for a “non-disclosure” two years after your probation ends. But, you will need to install in ignition interlock device to your car that must stay on for six months. A non-disclosure restricts who can see your criminal record. You will have to ask your attorney about this option. Under Utah law, if you are convicted on a first time DWI offense, you can get fined up to $2,000, spend three days to six months in jail, and or perform 24 to 100 hour of community service. You may have specific directions from the Community Service Department if special circumstances need to be addressed in your case. For example, if you have a history of alcoholism, you might be directed for an intervention or a Victim Impact Panel. The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Program could also suspend your license for 90 days to a year. This is why you might want to consider an experienced DWI lawyer to advocate for you. Second offense penalties for DWI mean that maximum fine can increase to $4,000 and or jail time for 30 days to a year. It is also possible that your driver’s license can get suspended from 180 days to 2 years (Class A Misdemeanor). As a second-time offender, you can face similar penalties as first-time offenders, just with enhanced conditions. Second-time offenders are almost always required to install an ignition interlock device on cars, which prevents driving unless there is a breathalyzer test. Second-time offenders can also get fined up to $4,000 and spend 30 days to a year in jail, with 80 to 200 hours of community service. The ALR program tends to suspend a second-time offender’s driver’s license for anywhere from 180 days to two years. A third-time DWI offense consists of an aggravated DWI charge. This means that the charges from your misdemeanor are raised to a felony. If you have an aggravated DWI, you can face up to $10,000 in fines, two to ten years in a state penitentiary, 160 to 600 hours of community service, 180 days to two years of a suspended license (third-degree felony), and the installation of an interlock device on your car. Be aware that imprisonment is in a dreaded state-run penal institution instead of a county-run jail. If you have a felony conviction you are also disqualified from voting and owning a firearm in the future.

Additional Penalties In Utah

Be aware that there are additional penalties that can make your offenses worse. Penalties like a record of alcohol problems, driving with an open container, and an accident where someone was injured or killed. These conditions when added to a sentence are meant to address the offenders issues a restorative way. If it’s a case of intoxication assault or manslaughter, then these penalties are meant to increase fines, jail time, and community service.

An Open Alcohol Container

If you are pulled over with an open alcohol container, then your minimum jail time penalty can increase to six days.

Intoxication Assault

This is when an accident happened with serious bodily injuries because of intoxication. When convicted, the DWI penalties will be more severe. You can get sentenced to a minimum of two years, and up to a maximum of ten years in prison. If you get a probated sentence, then you will serve a 30-day minimum jail sentence. You can also get fined up to $10,000 which is a third-degree felony if the car was driven in a way that made it a deadly weapon. If this happens, then there is an additional penalty that prevents good time credit, which allows an early release once half the sentence is completed, from happening.

Intoxication Manslaughter

This is a DWI where the death happened in an accident due to intoxicated driving. When convicted you would have to pay a minimum fine of $10,000 and or jail time for two to twenty years as this is a second-degree felony. In cases where probation is granted, you must serve a 120-day jail sentence. If the car was driven in a way that makes it a deadly weapon, then there is an additional penalty that prevents good time credit for an early release.

DWI With a Child Passenger

This is a case where a person has DWI and there is another person in the car who is under the age of 15. You can get punished by confinement in the state jail for no more than two years or less than 180 days, and a fine of $10,000 or a state jail felony. Other conditions that can be added due to additional felonies include more fines, more jail time, alcohol interventions and treatment, ignition interlock devices, DWI education, restitution payments, and longer license suspension.

Proving a DUI Charge at Trial

If you get charged with driving under the influence and decide to go to trial, the prosecution has to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, the jury is supposed to acquit you.

Elements of a DUI Charge

Generally, the prosecution needs to prove two elements for a jury to find you guilty of a DUI charge. The prosecution must show that you were:
• driving or operating a vehicle, and
• under the influence.
Some states also require the prosecution to prove that the defendant was driving on a public rather than private road. If the prosecution can prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, chances are the jury will convict the defendant. In many states, you can get a DUI even if you weren’t actually driving. Though most of the states that don’t require actual driving still call the crime “driving under the influence” (DUI) or “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), prosecutors in these states can prove the “driving” element by showing the motorist was “operating” or “in actual physical control” of a vehicle. In other words, proof that the driver was behind the wheel with the car in motion is sufficient but not required to prove the driving element. State laws vary on what exactly it means to be operating or in actual control of a vehicle. But typically, the judge or jury deciding the case will look at a variety of factors when deciding whether the prosecution has proven the element. These factors are ordinarily based on police observations at the scene of the defendant’s arrest and might include whether:
• the defendant was sleeping or awake
• the defendant was in the driver’s seat\
• the car keys were in the defendant’s possession
• the car’s motor was on, and
• the defendant’s car was parked in a way that posed a danger to other motorists.

The “Under the Influence” Element

To prove a driver was under the influence, the prosecution generally has two options:
• proving the driver had a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (a “per se” DUI), or
• showing that the motorist was actually impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Proving BAC is usually easier than showing impairment. However, it’s common for prosecutors to file two charges in a DUI complaint one based on impairment and a second alleging excessive BAC. By filing two charges though perhaps only one might stick the prosecution can maximize their chances of getting a conviction. The consequences of a DUI conviction are serious, and DUI laws vary by state. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, get in contact with an experienced DUI lawyer in your area. A good DUI attorney can analyze the facts of your case and tell you how the law of your state applies.

How to Get Your Driver’s License Back After a DUI

What to do if you get a DUI, DWI or OUI and the steps you’ll need to take to get your license back following a suspension. It is illegal for any persons 21 years or older to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% in all states except for Utah. In 2018, Utah changed the limit to reflect a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% and above as the illegal percentage for persons 21 years or older operating a vehicle. Driving after drinking too much alcohol can fall under several legal names including driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), impaired driving, or operating under the influence (OUI). The consequences for being pulled over for a DUI vary based on state, age, and blood alcohol content. If a person’s BAC is over the legal limit, they are at risk for having their driver’s license taken away. This is often a red flag, showing someone that they have an issue with problem drinking, including heavy drinking, binge drinking, or even alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you recognize any of these red flags in your behavior or that of a loved one, it may be time to seek professional help. Although each state has a different approach to reinstating a driver’s license after a DUI or multiple DUI charges, the following steps may help get your license back.
Steps to Get Your License Back
To get your license back you may need to:
• Attend the DUI hearing and present your case.
• Pay required fees, including court, reinstatement, and bail fees.
• Complete the full period of license suspension (length of time varies).
• Complete court requirements, which will likely include DUI traffic school.
• With a DUI on your record, you’ll need to inform your provider of your DUI and get form SR-22 which proves you have this new insurance.
• When you have completed each of the above steps, you can go to your local DMV office and apply for reinstatement.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law 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

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