How Bad Is a Third DUI Offense?

In Utah, a DUI is a serious offense that can carry severe penalties.

For the state to obtain a conviction, the prosecuting attorney must prove that the defendant:

  • Operated or was in actual physical control of a vehicle, and
  • Had a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 or more, or
  • Was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and could not safely control their car, or
  • Had a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 or more when driving.

The elements listed above apply whether it's a first, second, or third offense. You might be wondering, then, how bad could a third DUI be if the underlying conduct is the same as a first and second offense. The answer is "pretty bad."

Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI in Utah

The first or second time you commit a DUI, you may be charged with a class B misdemeanor. The punishments include up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Your driving privileges may be suspended for 120 days.

The third time you violate the law, you may face a third-degree felony charge. That's quite a leap from the class B misdemeanor imposed for your first couple of offenses. Now, you face up to 5 years in prison. For comparison's sake, that's 60 months of incarceration as opposed to 4 months.

If you thought the misdemeanor financial penalty was steep, the felony fine is more substantial. You're looking at possibly paying $5,000 upon your conviction.

Being unable to drive for 120 days can be tough. Still, upon a third DUI conviction, you face a driver's license revocation of 2 years. This sanction can place various hardships on your life – even running daily errands can become challenging.

What Counts as a Previous Conviction?

Under the law, a person commits a third DUI when they have two or more violations on their record. The "lookback" period is 10 years, which means the court can check your criminal history for any conviction occurring within that time to determine sentence enhancements.

A conviction is defined as a violation of any of the following:

  • Driving under the influence (Utah Code § 41-6a-502)
  • Driving with any controlled substance in a person's system (Utah Code § 41-6a-517)
  • Any local ordinance similar to Utah Code § 41-6a-502
  • Automobile homicide (Utah Code § 76-5-207d)
  • Refusing a chemical test (Utah Code § 41-6a-520(7))

Additionally, admitting guilt in juvenile court or pleading guilty or no contest to driving under the influence is also considered a conviction.

If you've been charged with your third DUI offense in Salt Lake City, take the matter seriously and get aggressive defense on your side.

Contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C. at (801) 829-9783 for the legal representation you need.