Implied Consent Law & DUI Chemical Tests

Under Utah Code § 41-6a-520, a person gives consent to chemical testing of their breath, blood, urine, or oral fluids when they are arrested or stopped for suspicion of operating a vehicle while:

  • Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two
  • Having any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in their body
  • Having a blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) that is legally prohibited under Utah Code § 41-6a-502, § 41-6a-530, or § 53-3-231

An officer is only authorized to administer a test if they have adequate grounds to believe that the person is under the influence, and it is at their discretion to determine what tests and how many are needed. If the officer orders multiple tests, you must submit to each and every test; failure to submit to even one test is still considered a refusal.

If you refuse a test, the officer should remind you of the implied consent laws as well as the possibility you may face:

  • Criminal prosecution
  • The loss of their license
  • Prohibition of driving with any measurable amount of detectable alcohol in their body for 5-10 years
  • Prohibition of driving a motor vehicle without the use of an ignition interlock device for 3 years.

If you still refuse to take a chemical test after receiving a warning, the officer will file a report that includes details about why they believed you were under the influence and that you refused the test. They will also take steps to revoke your driver’s license. To reinstate your driving privileges, you will have to schedule a hearing before the Driver License Division.

What Happens If Someone Refuses a Chemical Test?

For a first-time refusal, alleged offenders can have their license suspended for 18 months, while subsequent offenses result (within a 10-year period) results in a suspension for 36 months. In addition to losing your license, you can also face a jail sentence, electronic monitoring and home confinement, hefty fines, and/or mandatory participation in a substance abuse treatment or educational series.

If the arresting officer obtains a warrant and you still refuse the test, you face more serious criminal charges. Alleged offenders can be charged with a:

  • Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.
  • Third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines. An alleged offender can only be charged with a third-degree felony if they have two or more DUI convictions within a 10-year period or a conviction for vehicular homicide or a felony DUI or chemical test refusal conviction.

Felony convictions can impact your freedoms and life, including but not limited to restricting your right to bear arms or affecting your ability to obtain employment. While misdemeanor convictions can be expunged, they also carry hefty penalties as mentioned. To mitigate the charges and penalties, you need to retain a knowledgeable DUI lawyer.

At Nelson, Taylor & Associates, we are known for being aggressive advocates for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys can help you or a loved one facing DUI or chemical test refusal charges. For help developing a strong legal defense strategy and mitigating your charges, contact our Salt Lake City DUI attorneys online or at (801) 901-7046 today.