Overview of Felony DUI in Utah
Utah has the strictest limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for DUI in the United States. This makes it much easier for drivers in Utah to be convicted of driving under the influence. Despite the BAC being low, the punishments for DUI convictions remain the same. A first-time DUI brings fines, jail time, community service, suspension of a driver’s license suspension, community service, and more. While a DUI in Utah is generally a misdemeanor offense, there are times when it becomes a felony. When a DUI becomes a felony, the penalties can be harsh—as much as five years in jail.
When does a misdemeanor DUI become a felony DUI?
If this is your third DUI within ten years, your offense will be charged as a felony. If you have a prior DUI felony conviction, then any new DUI charge will be charged as a felony. If your DUI resulted in serious injury or death to another person, you will be charged with a felony. If you are involved in an auto accident, your BAC is 0.05 percent or higher, and the accident kills another person, you could be charged with a second-degree felony. If convicted of this offense, you could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and be assessed a fine up to $10,000.
What Are the Penalties and Consequences for a Felony DUI?
If you are convicted of a felony DUI, the specific penalties will vary based on the facts and your BAC at the time of your arrest. If this is your third DUI within ten years or you have prior DUI felony convictions, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to two years, you could face up to five years in jail, you will be fined a minimum of $2,850, and you could be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for many years. If you cannot drive, you could find it very difficult to keep your job, go to school, run errands, and more.
What Are Potential Enhancements to a DUI in Utah?
Certain criminal charges may be considered “enhanceable” in Utah. This means the offense may be eligible for longer jail or prison terms, higher fines, and additional penalties over and above the standard penalties. While most enhancements to certain offenses are created by statute, the prosecutor in the case ultimately decides whether to enhance your charges, with criteria varying from one offense to another.
How Can I Defend Against My Felony DUI Charges?
Your specific charges and the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges will determine the defense your Salt Lake City felony DUI attorney uses on your behalf; however, some of the most common defenses include:
- The police officer may not have had sufficient probable cause to pull you over.
- Your civil rights were violated. The officer did not read your Miranda Rights to you following your arrest.
- Your BAC test is inaccurate. The breathalyzer may not have been properly calibrated, or the test may not have been properly administered. Many other breathalyzer issues can render the results inaccurate, including prescription drugs or cold medicine you are taking, your job, your diet, your weight, and much more.
- The field sobriety test is inaccurate or invalid. Field sobriety tests must be instructed, administered, and performed the same way every time—which is highly unlikely. Women wearing heels, those with medical issues, the elderly, or those overweight can all have difficulty performing the test, even while totally sober. Women, in particular, tend to do poorly on field sobriety tests. A woman is more likely to be nervous when pulled over by a police officer, especially at night. When asked to perform a “walk and turn” on the side of the road, she may be dealing with wearing heels and an uneven surface. When taken as a whole, the field sobriety test could be wildly inaccurate in such a situation. Our best advice? DO NOT CONSENT TO FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS!
- No evidence exists that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle. Perhaps you knew you had too much to drink, so you pulled off the road to “sleep it off.” Whether you were in actual physical control of the vehicle at this point depends on a number of things, such as where you were sitting in the vehicle when police arrived, the location of the keys, and whether anyone saw you driving.
How a Salt Lake City Felony DUI Attorney from Conyers & Nix Can Help
Attorneys Kate Conyers and Jesse Nix were public defenders before starting their firm. This means they have handled far more cases than most private attorneys because their caseloads were larger. They have spent more time in a courtroom, have more facetime with judges, and have more experience with prosecutors.
This experience directly benefits you when you are facing felony DUI charges. At Conyers & Nix, we are never afraid of going to trial. Therefore, we receive better plea offers for our clients because the prosecutor knows we are willing to fight. We will negotiate for the very best deal possible on your behalf and will continue the fight until the deal is accepted—or we go to trial. Contact Conyers & Nix today for a Salt Lake City felony DUI attorney you can trust.