Impaired driving is a lesser charge, a Class B misdemeanor, one degree below a DUI charge. Impaired driving is not an original offense or charge, it only exists as a negotiated plea bargain between the prosecutor and defense attorney.
The primary advantage to an impaired driving conviction versus a drunk driving conviction is that if your license has not already been suspended by the Driver License Division it will not be suspended with an impaired driving conviction. If your license has been suspended prior to entering a plea to impaired driving, the Utah DLD will reinstate your license before the 120 day suspension is over, but not earlier than 90 days from the date of your arrest.
In addition to the different license consequences of an impaired driving plea, there is no mandatory jail time or mandatory fine with an impaired driving conviction. Another benefit of a pleading to an impaired driving charge rather than a DUI is that if asked if you have been convicted of a DUI, you can lawfully answer “No.”
A conviction of impaired driving does not give you a pass in the event of a subsequent DUI arrest; the prosecution and court will treat the earlier impaired driving as a DUI for purposes of enhanced second offense DUI penalties.
(1) With the agreement of the prosecutor, a plea to a class B misdemeanor violation of Section 41-6a-502 committed on or after July 1, 2008, may be entered as a conviction of impaired driving under this section if: (a) the defendant completes court ordered probation requirements; or (b) (i) the prosecutor agrees as part of a negotiated plea; and (ii) the court finds the plea to be in the interest of justice. (2) A conviction entered under this section is a class B misdemeanor. (3) (a) (i) If the entry of an impaired driving plea is based on successful completion of probation under Subsection (1)(a), the court shall enter the conviction at the time of the plea. (ii) If the defendant fails to appear before the court and establish successful completion of the court ordered probation requirements under Subsection (1)(a), the court shall enter an amended conviction of Section 41-6a-502. (iii) The date of entry of the amended order under Subsection (3)(a)(ii) is the date of conviction. (b) The court may enter a conviction of impaired driving immediately under Subsection (1)(b). (4) For purposes of Section 76-3-402, the entry of a plea to a class B misdemeanor violation of Section 41-6a-502 as impaired driving under this section is a reduction of one degree. (5) (a) The court shall notify the Driver License Division of each conviction entered under this section. (b) Beginning on July 1, 2012, a court shall, monthly, send to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, created in Section 58-1-103, a report containing the name, case number, and, if known, the date of birth of each person convicted during the preceding month of a violation of this section for whom there is evidence that the person was driving while impaired, in whole or in part, by a prescribed controlled substance. (6) (a) The provisions in Subsections 41-6a-505(1), (2), and (3) that require a sentencing court to order a convicted person to participate in a screening, an assessment, or an educational series, or obtain substance abuse treatment or do a combination of those things, apply to a conviction entered under this section. (b) The court shall render the same order regarding screening, assessment, an educational series, or substance abuse treatment in connection with a first, second, or subsequent conviction under this section as the court would render in connection with applying respectively, the first, second, or subsequent conviction requirements of Subsection 41-6a-505(1), (2), or (3). (7) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (7)(b), a report authorized by Section 53-3-104 may not contain any evidence of a conviction for impaired driving in this state if the reporting court notifies the Driver License Division that the defendant is participating in or has successfully completed the program of a driving under the influence court. (b) The provisions of Subsection (7)(a) do not apply to a report concerning: (i) a CDL license holder; or (ii) a violation that occurred in a commercial motor vehicle.