California Vs. Utah: Is One State’s Dui Laws More Effective?

Despite some apparent recent reductions, drunk driving remains the most important identifiable fact in fatal traffic accidents across the United States. One estimate suggests more than a million drunk driving arrests occur in the United States each year.

The number of fatal drunk driving accidents varies significantly from one state to another. In its annual report, the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs estimated that 1768 persons died in DUI related accidents in 2010. According to the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, 25 persons were killed in same year in Utah from DUI related fatal accidents. Does this significant difference in the number of persons killed in DUI related fatal accidents mean that the Utah DUI laws are more effective than California DUI laws?

California DUI Laws

Under California DUI law, a person’s blood alcohol concentration will be presumed as 0.08 percent or more if the result of the chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. The chemical test must be conducted within three hours of the DUI stop. Commercial vehicle drivers will be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 percent or more. Persons addicted to drug use are prohibited from driving a vehicle in California. California DUI laws have a provision for automatic suspension of a person’s driver’s license in case of a DUI arrest. The suspension is an administrative proceeding conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The outcome of the DUI court case does not affect this administrative proceeding.

Utah DUI Laws

Under Utah DUI laws the permitted blood alcohol level for motorists in 0.08 percent. The permitted blood alcohol concentration for commercial drivers is much less at 0.04 percent. It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drive or operate a motor vehicle in the State of Utah while under the influence. The law also prohibits a person from driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances like cocaine, inhalants, marijuana, drugs and other intoxicants. Utah DUI law has a provision for impounding an intoxicated person’s vehicle and requires police officers who arrest or cite motorists for DUI to do so. The owner of the vehicle must pay a $350 dollar fine to have the vehicle released.

Does Population Influence DUI Law Effectiveness?

The number of persons killed in fatal DUI crashes is much higher in California than in Utah. This does not mean that Utah’s DUI laws are more effective. California’s population is over 30 million while Utah’s population is under 3 million.

California DUI Information

Persons convicted of DUI in California will have to face serious consequences. It’s not just the prison term or the fine. A DUI conviction will result in the person having a criminal record.  If you or a loved one is facing a charges stemming from driving while intoxicated, speaking with an experienced DUI attorney to get useful information pertaining to your circumstance may be in your best interest. For more information about DUI representation in California, visit

Image courtesy of dwightsghost

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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