Utah Court Records
What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Utah?
Traffic violations and traffic infractions in Utah are traffic-related offenses with varying degrees of severity. The Utah Justice Court is responsible for cases regarding traffic offenses in the state, including ticket payment, traffic school, and holding court hearings during which Utah traffic court records are generated. According to the Utah Traffic Code, offenses categorized as traffic violations carry more severe penalties than traffic infractions. Both kinds of offenses can lead to a court appearance. Traffic violations include offenses that breach state law, while traffic infractions are a breach of traffic law.
What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Utah?
The court categorizes all traffic-related offenses that threaten or cause bodily injury or property damage as felony traffic violations. A well-known traffic violation often charged as a felony is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both or high blood-alcohol concentration, also referred to as a DUI. The state of Utah uses the three-strikes law. This law mandated that if an individual is charged with the same or similar misdemeanor twice and gets caught a third time, the third charge will automatically become a felony charge. This law makes the penalties much more severe. An example is if a driver gets caught and ticketed for a reckless driving charge, which is typically a misdemeanor, two times. If the driver is caught driving a third time recklessly, the officer or court will issue a felony charge, and the court will revoke the driver's license.
There are four classes of felonies in Utah: Capital, First Degree, Second Degree, and Third Degree. Capital felonies bring the most severe penalties, including 25 years to life imprisonment. Per Utah Code § 76-3-206, an example of a capital felony that may incur a life sentence is murder. Felonies of the First degree are defined by Utah Code § 76-3-203, 76-3-301, and are punishable by five years to life in prison, along with fines of up to $10,000. Felonies of the Second Degree may incur up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Felonies of the Third Degree incur the least harsh penalties. The punishment is incarceration for up to five years and fines of up to $5,000.
Specific statutes may categorize a crime as a felony, but the degree may not be stated. In that case, the court will charge the individual with a Third Degree Felony.
Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Utah
In Utah, the following are examples of felony traffic violations:
- Multiple misdemeanor DUI charges
- Homicide or manslaughter
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
- Hitting a pedestrian crossing the street on a crosswalk
- Hit and run
- Driving with an invalid license
What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Utah?
Traffic misdemeanors carry less severe penalties than do traffic felonies in Utah, but both are considered crimes. Typically a law enforcement officer charges individuals with traffic misdemeanors in the form of a ticket or citation. If the misdemeanor is very severe, the individual may be taken into custody and given the option to post bail or stay in jail until the scheduled hearing. If an arrest does not occur, parties are still required to appear in court on the ticket's date. There are three types of misdemeanors in Utah: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The penalties for these charges are:
- Class A Misdemeanor conviction: fines of up to $2,500
- Class B Misdemeanor conviction: $1,000 fine
- Class C Misdemeanor conviction: up to $750 in fines
Failure to appear in court or respond to the misdemeanor ticket will trigger the court to issue an arrest warrant for the individual.
Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Utah
In Utah, examples of traffic misdemeanors are:
- DUI or driving under the influence
- Driving with an invalid license
- Driving with a license that has been revoked or suspended
- Speeding over 100 miles per hour or reckless driving
- Drag racing with another vehicle on a street or highway
- Fleeing an accident
- Fleeing an officer
- Driving on the opposite side of a highway divided by a traffic barrier
- Driving the wrong way on a highway divided by a traffic barrier
- Possession of illegal substances while driving
- Refusing to present a license when [pulled over
- Causing injury with a suspended or revoked license
- Throwing substances at a vehicle while in a vehicle
What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Utah?
Individuals are charged with a traffic infraction when an individual breaks a traffic law but has not broken a state or federal law. Traffic infractions are not considered crimes as per Utah's penal code and typically hold minor consequences compared to traffic violations. Infractions often incur the payment of fines decided by the court judge, and the DMV will enact the addition of points to the individual's driving record upon conviction. Most information held in an individual's driving record stays on the record three years. DUIs and other drug-related offenses stay on a record for ten years.
Drivers who accumulate over 200 on a driving record within three years may have all driving privileges suspended. If the driver is under 21, the court will authorize a suspension for accumulating 70 points in three years. Other penalties for points on a record can be found in the Utah Administrative Rule R708-3. The points associated with traffic infractions are as follows:
- Reckless driving: 80
- Speeding: 35 - 75
- Failure to yield right-of-way: 60
- Following too closely (tailgating: 60
- Driving on the wrong side of the road: 60
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street: 60
- Running a red light: 50
- Running a stop sign: 50
- Improper lookout (such as not look both ways before making a turn): 50
- Improper passing: 50
- A negligent accident with another vehicle: 50
- Other moving violations: 40
The Utah Traffic Code highlights the decided penalties for specific traffic infractions. Individuals will face a $100 to $300 fine for most infractions, which varies depending on the severity, how many infractions the driver already has been issued, and the number of points the driver has accumulated. Penalties will typically be more severe for repeat or multiple infractions. Fines and fees for traffic infractions not listed in the Utah Traffic Code are decided by the Justice Court judge in charge of the case.
Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Utah
Law enforcement issues traffic infractions in Utah when a driver breaks a traffic rule. Examples of some infractions are:
- Driving over the speed limit
- Running a red light
- Unlawful lane change
- Unlawful turning
- Littering on a highway
- Use of cell phone or other electronics while driving
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Incorrectly use of a blinker
- Driving with a license that is expired
- Failure to follow the speed limit on bridges or in construction sites
- Parking illegally
- Moving at a slower speed than the indicated speed limit
How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Utah?
In Utah, traffic tickets are given to drivers by law enforcement when a traffic rule or law has been breached. There are two categories of traffic offenses in Utah: moving and non-moving. Moving traffic offenses can be either infractions or violations. If the moving offense is a violation, the court can determine it as a misdemeanor or a felony crime. The court categorizes non-moving traffic offenses as infractions, which carry lighter penalties. All tickets hold the necessary information needed for the driver to settle the charge, including the charge itself, the officer information, fines associated with the ticket, deadline to take action, and a notice to appear in court and the date, time, and location of the hearing.
If the charge is not severe, parties can pay the fine without going to the court hearing. Paying a fine can be done in-person or by mail by finding the court's address and division on the ticket itself. The Utah courts also have an ePayment platform for paying tickets online. This service requires that offenders know the citation number and the court case number, both of which can also be found on the ticket. Experts recommend that individuals contact the specific court to make sure that it accepts online payments and supports the ePayment system. If it does not, there are other options.
If an individual loses a ticket issued to them, the party can contact the local law enforcement office nearest to where the ticket was received. If the Utah Highway Patrol wrote the ticket, visit the Utah Department of Public Safety map to find the office. Suppose the ticket was issued by a city or county law enforcement officer, such as a sheriff or city police officer. In that case, the Utah state website provides links to all law enforcement websites to find the office where the individual can obtain a copy of the ticket.
For tickets that do not necessarily require a court appearance, parties must make sure to pay the fine by the date indicated on the ticket, often referred to as an Appear Date. Failure to pay before the Appear Date will usually result in increased fines and the issuing of an arrest warrant. Failure to respond to the ticket at all also incurs penalties. If the party misses the court date, the case is closed, and a new case opens up with new charges and fees. The individual will have their license suspended and will have another court date assigned.
Individuals who have received a ticket and wish to contest the court's charge should not pay the fine listed on the ticket. Payment of fines is essentially a no-contest plea, meaning the charge will stay on the driver's record. Once the individual makes the payment, the case is closed. Instead, the individual should attend court on the Appear Date and plead Not Guilty. Following a Not Guilty plea, the party or the party's lawyer may attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor. If the attorneys cannot reach an agreement that satisfies both parties, the court will assign the party a trial date. A trial allows the driver and the issuing officer to plead their case and any witnesses to the ticket or alleged offense. It is highly recommended that the party being charged hires an attorney to represent the case if they wish to contest the charge, but the court allows self-representation.
Traffic court opinions can also be appealed to the justice court, and another trial will take place. The trial that occurs after an appeal is filed is referred to as a "de novo" trial, meaning it is the same matter being tried again. The court website provides a Notice of Appeal From Justice Court form that parties can fill out and either mail to the court directly or email to the court clerk. As per Utah Code Section 78A-7-118, the individual must file for an appeal no more than 28 days after the first trial is concluded.
Are Driving Records Public In Utah?
No, Utah driving records, also referred to as Motor vehicle Reports (MVR), are not public records. Utah Code Title 63G Chapter 2 outlines which records in the state are considered open to the public. An MVR is considered sealed from the public because it contains personal information regarding licensing, registration for the vehicle, titles, and driving history. Although a Utah MVR is not available to public members, individuals can request copies of their driving records.
If a party wishes to request a record that does not belong to them, it is necessary to petition the court and justify the record's need. Requesting parties who want to qualify to obtain another party's driving record must do so under the uses outlined in the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPP) and present a filled out Form TC-890 for the Release of Protected Motor Vehicle Information to the DMV. There are specific eligibility standards one must meet to obtain another individual's driving record. Parties can access a driving record that does not belong to them if the requesting party is:
- The officer or official that submitted the information held in the record
- A government agency who needs the document to carry out its functions
- Investigating other related crimes that may be connected to the record
- A business needing to view a potential employees record for verification
- A researcher that utilizes statistical reports as long as the personal information is not published
- An insurance company investigating the driver or an accident that has occured
- A company that has towed or impounded a vehicle and needs the owner's information
- A licensed private investigator or security service
- Equipped with written consent from the subject of the record
There are federal statutes in place that allow for specific pieces of information in a driving record may be disclosed while other information may not be. Parties may be able to obtain a record, but certain pieces may be redacted to protect the privacy of the subject of the record. In Utah, parties or companies working in debt collection or asset recovery are denied access to driving records.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved, including information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Find Driving Records In Utah?
Individuals or companies can access a driving record, or an MVR, that belongs to them or another person online, in-person, or by mail. To obtain a copy of a driving record online, visit the state-sponsored platform MVR Personal. To search online for a driving record, parties must set up an account and register. Requesters should have all necessary information prepared, most notably a driver's license number. Note that if the license number begins in a 0, parties should start at the next number. Other information required includes the first and last name, the party's birth date of the party listed on the record, the issue date of the driver's license of the party, and the last four digits of the party's social security number.
To obtain an uncertified copy of a driving record in person, it is necessary to first schedule an appointment through the Driver License Department Appointment Scheduler on the Utah Department of Public Safety website. Once the terms and conditions are accepted, select the region, office, reason, and appointment date. Requesting parties must pay the fee of $8.00 at the appointment, along with a fully filled out DLD60 form. The DLD60 form will ask the requesting party for the driver's personal information whom the record belongs to along with the requester's contact information. A certified copy of the record cannot be obtained this way. If a requesting party needs a certified copy, it is necessary to come prepared with a filled out DLD60 form along with a DLD266 form. A fee of $10.75 is required, and the record request will typically take two weeks to process. Requesting parties can visit the Driver License Division Administrative Office at:
4501 St, 2700 W
3rd floor Calvin Rampton Complex
Salt Lake City
If the requesting party cannot visit the Driver License Administrative Office, parties can request the record through a mail-in records request. To obtain a driving record or MVR by mail, print out the DLD60 form and fill it out. A fee of $8.00 payable by check to the Utah Department of Public Safety is also required. If the requesting party sends cash, the request will not be accepted. Send these items in a self-addressed envelope to:
Department of Public Safety
Driver License Division
PO Box 144501
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4501
Once the division receives the request, the Department of Public Safety will send the record back in the mail. If the requesting party is an insurance company, the representative must fill out the DLD60b form instead of the standard DLD60. The department now requires a notarized signature before the record's release is granted to any individual or company through the mail.
Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged Or Sealed In Utah?
Under certain circumstances, Utah driving records can be sealed or cleared. Individuals with points on their driving record can reduce points by practicing safe and lawful driving. Driving for one year without any convictions of moving traffic violations results in the points on a record being reduced by 50%. Going two years without any moving violation convictions will completely clear all of the points. If an individual wishes to speed up the process, they can attend a defensive driving course. The state government and court jurisdiction where the ticket was issued must have approved the course prior to the individual enrolling in it. Many recommend that parties contact the DMV or the court to determine which courses are approved.
The clearing of points from a driving record is not the same as expunging a driving record. Expungement is still possible, but the process is different from other court processes. The first step in filing for expungement is to ensure that the individual wishing to expunge the record is eligible. Individuals should then acquire a Certificate of Eligibility from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). Submit this form, and the BCI will respond in one to three months. After the response, the individual will have 90 days to file the answer along with a Petition to Expunge Records and other necessary forms to the court that heard the case. Once the individual gets everything filed, they must also submit the documents to the prosecutor that handled the case. The next steps depend on how the prosecutor responds. A guide for the following steps to take is available on the Utah courts website.