Thursday, January 28, 2016

DUI Metabolite vs. DUI Alcohol

There are two kinds of DUI's in Utah, one 
involving alcohol, and the other involving drugs.  
Although many of the consequences for each are 
the same, the two crimes are very different.

The first, and most common type of driving under the influence is a DUI
involving alcohol.  This crime occurs whenever a person sits in the driver's
seat of a car, has access to the keys, and is under the influence of alcohol,
or has a blood alcohol content of a .08% or higher.  Under those conditions,
that person is guilty of a DUI alcohol in Utah.  Under Utah law, a person
charged with a DUI involving alcohol is not eligible to have a "plea in abeyance"
resolution where, after taking a class and paying a fee, the case can be
dismissed after a year.  Instead, if a person is guilty, they have to enter a plea,
and have the conviction on their record for ten years.  A DUI charge can be
plead down to what is called "alcohol impaired driving" but it still is considered
a DUI for 10 years. The benefit of impaired driving is that it doesn't mandate a
driver's license suspension or require a mandatory installation of the ignition
interlock device to start your car if convicted.  

On the other hand, if a person sits in the driver's seat of a car, and has access
to the keys, is alcohol free, but has the metabolite of a controlled substance or
drug in their system, then they are guilty of a DUI metabolite.  The tricky thing
about that charge is that the person does not have to be impaired by the drug to
be guilty.  Indeed, a person could legally consume marijuana in California or
Colorado, and then, two or three weeks later, drive through Utah, and if the
inactive metabolite of THC from the marijuana is still in their system, they are
guilty of DUI metabolite.  Metabolite can stay in your system for up to 30 days.
It is a strict liability crime.  No field sobriety tests are necessary.  Just a urine or
blood test to prove the metabolite is present.  That's the bad news.  The good
news is that a DUI metabolite charge is eligible for a plea in abeyance plea
bargain that could result in the charge being dismissed.  Also, with a DUI
metabolite plea in abeyance, there is no requirement for a driver's license
suspension, if it was not already suspended by Drivers License Division
administratively, and it does not require the installation of an ignition interlock

As you can see, DUIs are complicated. If you are charged with either type of
DUI, contact me for a free 30 minute initial consultation. (435)654-9529