All You Need to Know About Driving While High in Utah
This post is part of our Best Dispensaries in Utah series, brought to you by Cannabist Springville.
Utah isn’t a state that’s exactly known for its progressive laws on marijuana usage. Cannabis is still illegal in the state for recreational use — and even if you have a medical card, driving while high in Utah is always illegal.
Since recreational use is illegal, you can assume that driving while recreationally high is doubly illegal. But for those with a valid license to use medical marijuana in Utah, it’s a good idea to know the ins and outs of driving while high laws in the state.
Table of Contents
- Is Driving High a DUI in Utah?
- Signs of Cannabis DUI Impairment
- Marijuana DUI Conviction Factors
- Which Tests Can Prove Marijuana DUI?
- Are Cannabis DUI Chemical Tests Reliable?
- Can You Refuse a Chemical Test for Weed DUI in Utah?
- Penalties & Fines for Marijuana DUI in Utah
- How Does Cannabis Affect Your Driving Ability?
- How to Avoid a Marijuana DUI in Utah?
- Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Utah
- Final Thoughts on Laws for Driving High in Utah
Is Driving High a DUI in Utah?
Even though we normally associate DUIs with drinking, you can actually get a DUI in Utah if you’ve smoked before driving. This is because state law defines drugged driving as a person being under the influence of any substance that renders them “incapable of safely operating a vehicle.”
In other words, there’s little difference between impaired driving vs DUI in Utah. If you came here with the explicit question of, “is driving high considered DUI,” then you can rest assured that the answer is always yes.
Here are some other details you should know about avoiding a marijuana DUI in Utah.
Signs of Cannabis DUI Impairment
There are a number of side effects related to being high on cannabis — you probably know them well. It’s someone who is in a state of blissful relaxation, possibly with bloodshot red eyes and delayed reaction times.
These are all signs that police officers will be using to determine whether you’re driving high. A strong smell of cannabis in your vehicle is another surefire sign of a DUI impairment, as is driving suspiciously, recklessly, or in a way that suggests impairment.
Marijuana DUI Conviction Factors
According to Utah state law, it’s illegal for anyone to drive while under the influence of “any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug” to a degree that renders driving unsafe. You can also be charged separately for driving with a controlled substance in your bloodstream, as well as possession of a controlled substance if you don’t have a medical card.
A prosecutor does not need to show impairment in your ability to operate a vehicle — they only need to prove that there was a controlled substance in your system while you were driving.
Which Tests Can Prove Marijuana DUI?
Just like with drunk driving, police could subject you to a field sobriety test. This test measures your performance on various physical or cognitive acts as a way to determine your level of impairment.
There are also chemical tests that can prove the presence of cannabis in your system. There’s no breath test for cannabis consumption, so it’s likely that authorities will ask you to take a blood test.
Are Cannabis DUI Chemical Tests Reliable?
Blood tests are a surefire way to prove that cannabis is in your system, but there’s a problem with them. Namely, these tests can detect cannabis metabolites in the system weeks after you last consumed marijuana.
Even if a chemical test can’t prove you were high while driving, the results of one will often be used in conjunction with other signs of impairment to form the basis for a conviction.
Can You Refuse a Chemical Test for Weed DUI in Utah?
Utah has an implied consent law, which means that driving a motor vehicle implies that you’ll submit to a chemical test if a police officer asks you to do so. You can still refuse to take the test, but there are consequences.
For example, you can have your driver’s license suspended immediately. The fact that you refused to take the test can also be used as evidence against you in court. More than that, refusal to take a chemical test can also result in a license revocation for 18 months for the first offense.
Penalties & Fines for Marijuana DUI in Utah
If you’re convicted of a marijuana DUI, you can expect the following penalties. There are also fines for a marijuana DUI in Utah.
For a first offense, you can expect at least 48 hours in jail, 48 hours of community service, mandatory participation in an educational course, and fines of at least $700.
For a second DUI within 10 years, you can get at least 240 hours of jail time or 240 hours of community service. You’ll also have to participate in an educational course and be subject to fines of at least $800.
Aggravated DUI Charges
If this is your third DUI in ten years or if you inflict serious bodily injury on another person as a result of being impaired, you can receive an aggravated DUI. This will include being charged with a felony, up to five in prison, and a fine of $1,500 to $2,500.
How Does Cannabis Affect Your Driving Ability?
Cannabis can have a range of effects on your driving ability. For example, marijuana is known to slow your reaction time and hamper your ability to make decisions. It’s also associated with a distorted perception, impaired coordination, and possible memory loss.
These are all things that can contribute to unsafe driving. While driving while drunk is much more dangerous, driving while high is still not recommended.
How to Avoid a Marijuana DUI in Utah?
Because of Utah marijuana laws, the easiest way to avoid being charged with any drug-related offense is to avoid consuming drugs.
If you’re a valid medical user, it’ll be a good idea to avoid consuming cannabis before driving. Even if you have cannabis metabolites in your system, it’ll be harder to convict you without evidence of impaired driving. Those crossing state borders might want to exercise caution.
Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Utah
While cannabis is not legal for recreational use in Utah, there are still a number of high-quality providers of medical marijuana. Here are a few of the best dispensaries near SLC airport, and in the Utah area.
Cannabist is a nationally known brand that offers competitive pricing, customer service that prioritizes compassion and expertise, and no limits on flower. Along with top-tier budtenders with deep knowledge of the product, Cannabist in Springville also offers excellent deals and an unbeatable selection of cannabis products like edibles, vape pens, flower, and tablets.
For those that want a quick and easy experience, WholesomeCo Cannabis offers online ordering with free delivery. While it carries top cannabis brands, the location also cultivates its own marijuana for use.
This stylish dispensary offers first-time consultations and a good range of items for long-time medical users. They have good customer service, solid daily deals, and can help medical marijuana users experiment with treatments like micro-dosing.
Modeled after a wellness or medical facility instead of a dispensary, it has seating areas, and is ADA-compliant. Their associates assist each patient with a custom experience and offer good knowledge about their various cannabis products.
This dispensary has two locations — one in Salt Lake City and one in Brigham City. Each dispensary is known for good selections, friendly staff, and relatively affordable pricing.
Final Thoughts on Laws for Driving High in Utah
A marijuana DUI in Utah is definitely something that you don’t want. Because of that, it’s a good idea to follow state law when it comes to the consumption of cannabis.
Medical marijuana, of course, is legal in Utah, so medical users need to be extra mindful of their usage while operating vehicles.
Luckily, CBD laws in Utah are more relaxed. You can take CBD or consume CBD products without any fear of a DUI or other charges!