UT: In Utah, it’s possible to get a DUI without actually driving
By Kelly Vaughen
December 27, 2019
This is the time of year when police see a spike in driving under the influence arrests, but in Utah you can get a DUI without actually driving a car.
In Utah, a person cannot drive, operate, or be in “actual physical control” of a car while under the influence or alcohol or drugs. There are a lot of factors that are looked at to determine if a person is in “actual physical control” of the car.
“Actual physical control isn’t defined, it’s whatever the cop says it is,” said David Rosenbloom, a DUI defense attorney.
Rosenbloom said these laws are intended to prevent an intoxicated person from causing harm, by stopping them before they drive. But there can be broad interpretations of this law.
“You don’t have to be sitting in your car to get a DUI in Utah. You could be camping. If the keys are in the car and you’re listening to the radio, that’s a DUI,” he said.
Courts must look at the whole circumstance to determine if someone was in actual physical control — like where the person is in the car, if the steering wheel or controls are being touched, if the person is awake or asleep, or if the keys are in hand.
“If you go out to your car, like one of my clients, at night to get your cigarettes, and you open that car door and you have alcohol on your breath, that’s a DUI,” said Rosenbloom.
He said if you are drinking, the best thing to do is use a ride-sharing service, but even that can have its problems.
“If you call an Uber, like one of my clients, the Uber arrives and you go to lock your car up, the minute you touch that car, the cop arrested her for DUI.”
He also says that, in Utah, you can get a DUI in any vehicle, like a boat, or even a bicycle. The consequences of a DUI while not driving are as severe as if you were caught on the roads. The maximum penalty for a first-time DUI could be 180 days in jail, plus a lot of money in fees and fines. After that, the penalties go up with subsequent DUI convictions.