Possession of less than 1 ounce is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Upon a second conviction the person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and upon a third or subsequent conviction the person is guilty of a third degree felony
Any conviction will result in a driver’s license suspension for 6 months.
Utah Code Ann. § 53-3-2201(1)(c)(i)(A) (2015) Web Search
This state has a per se drugged driving law enacted. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance is available here. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available here.
This state has an active hemp industry or has authorized research. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains minimal (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed, and other products. For more information see NORML’s Industrial Use section.
There are two ways to get a DUI in Utah: (1) if the person is under the influence of any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or (2) if a person operates a motor vehicle while that person has any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a of a controlled substance in the person’s body (per se law). Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-502(b) (West 2010); Id. § 517(2).
(1) Driving under the influence of Marijuana Id. § 41-6a-502(b).
It is unlawful for a person to operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle if the person is under the influence of any drug to a degree that renders them incapable of safely operating a vehicle. Moreover, marijuana is defined as a drug under Id. § 41-6a-501(1)(ii)(c).
The fact that a person charged is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense against this first type of DUI. Id. § 41-6a-504.
(2) Driving with any measurable amount of marijuana or marijuana metabolite present (per se law) Id. § 41-6a-517(2).
It is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle if the person has any trace amounts of THC or THC-COOH in their system.
NOTE: Actual intoxication is not an element of this offense. Marijuana metabolites can be detected in a person’s body up to one month after use, depending on a myriad of factors (See our science page). Thus, it is possible for a person to be convicted of this second type of DUI weeks after he or she last ingested marijuana.
Utah has laid out three different affirmative defenses for this second type of DUI. Id. § 41-6a-517(3)(a)-(c). The three affirmative defenses are:
If the substance or metabolite is involuntary ingested by the accused;
If the substance or metabolite is prescribed by a practitioner for use by the accused (NOTE: that a doctors recommendation to use cannabis is not the same as a doctor’s prescription); or
The substance or metabolite is otherwise legally ingested. Id.
Any person who drives a motor vehicle on the roads of Utah is considered to have given his or her consent to a chemical test or tests of his or her breath, blood, urine, oral fluids for the purpose of determining if the person is under the influence of drugs/alcohol, or if they have a measurable amount of a controlled substance or metabolite in their body. Id. § 41-6a-520.
Refusal to submit to any and all tests can result in revocation of the driver’s license, or the requirement of a ignition interlock device. If the driver is dead or unconscious they are considered incapable of refusing, and the police may administer the chemical tests. Id. § 41-6a-522.
The person to be tested does not have a right to consult with an attorney while determining whether to submit to a test.
First offenseclass B misdemeanor – at least 48 consecutive hours in jail, 48 hours of community service, or electronically monitored home confinement, – Participation in an educational course; Fine: at least $700; The court may also impose probation or substance abuse treatment. Id. § 41-6a-505 (1)(a)(i); Id. § 41-6a-503(1)(a); Id. § 41-6a-505 (1)(a)(iv); Id. § 41-6a-505 (1)(a)(v); Id. § 41-6a-505 (1)(b).
If 21 or older – suspension of the operator’s driver’s license for at least 120 days. The driver is entitled to a hearing, but only has 10 days after the incident to request this hearing in writing.
If under 21 – suspension of driver’s license until person becomes 21 years of age, or 120 day, whichever is longer. Id. § 41-6a-509(1)(a)(i)(A); Id. § 41-6a-517(6); Id. § 41-6a-521; Id. § 41-6a-509(1)(a)(ii)(A).
Second offense (within 10 years) class B misdemeanor – not less than 240 consecutive hours in jail; or 240 hours of community service; or electronically monitored home confinement.; participate in an educational course; fine of not less than $800; the court may also impose probation or substance abuse treatment. Id. § 41-6a-505(2)(a)(i); Id. § 41-6a-505(2)(a)(iv); Id. § 41-6a-505 (2)(b).
If 21 or older – suspension of the operator’s driver’s license for a period of 2 years. Utah Code Ann. 41-61-509(1)(a)(i)(B).
If under 21 suspension of driver’s license until person becomes 21 years of age, or 2 years, whichever is longer. Utah Code Ann. 41-61-509 (1)(a)(ii)(C).
Third or subsequent offense (within 10 years) third degree felony – up to 5 years in prison; fine of $1,500-$2,500. Id. § 76-3-203(3).
Other Penalties & Penalty Enhancers
If offender inflicts bodily injury upon another as a proximate result of operating the vehicle in a neglect manner while driving under the influence. Id. § 41-6a-503 (1)(b)(i).
If offender is with a passenger under 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offence. Id. § 41-6a-503 (1)(b)(ii).
If offender was 21 or older and had a passenger under 18 in the vehicle at the time of the offence. Id. § 41-6a-503 (1)(b)(iii).
In Utah, sobriety checkpoints are authorized by statute. Id. §77-23-101 et seq.
In Utah sobriety checkpoints require authorization from magistrate. State v. Sims, 808 P.2d 141 (1991).
Utah courts have found avoidance of a checkpoint does not justify a stop. State v. Talbot, 792 P.2d. 489 (1990).
State v. Wallice55 P.3d 1147 (2002) — Finding that an individual may operates a motor vehicle in a safe manner however, if the driver has any measurable amount of controlled substance, that person may still be charged and convicted of DUI.
Per Se Drugged Driving Laws
Utah has a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law enacted for cannabis, cannabis metabolites, and other controlled substances. (Utah Code Annotated, Section 41-6-44 & Section 41-6-44.6)
Utah’s law calls for mandatory imprisonment of 48 hours and not more than 6 months upon conviction for a first offense.
Year Passed: 2014 Summary:House Bill 105 permits the state Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp for the purpose of agricultural or academic research. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2014. The pilot program is in accordance with Section 7606 of the United States Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the Farm Bill), which authorizes institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to conduct industrial hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant.
Under the program, the Department may engage in the cultivation of cannabis containing no more than three-tenths of one percent THC for research purposes, including the study of whether extracts from the plant may be used as viable therapeutic agents. Separate provisions in the measure also seek to exempt qualified patients with intractable epilepsy from state prosecution if they possession extracted oils containing 15 percent or more of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol. The measure provides no immediate source for the extracts, which are presently available in a handful of legal medical cannabis states, such as Colorado and California. Statute: Utah Code Ann. § 4-41-103 (2014)