Metabolite Utah DUI–“But I’m not impaired!”

In Utah, a citizen can be charged with DUI without being impaired and without being over a .08 blood/breath alcohol level. It’s called driving with any measurable amount of a controlled substance in the body. In fact, the controlled substance does not even have to be found in your body, it can be a metabolite of the controlled substance. A metabolite is defined many ways but basically means the “end product, or by-product of another compound.” A metabolite can hang around in your system for days or even weeks after consumption.  It is the remnant of a drug and the affects are not necessarily impairing.  It just says you consumed drugs at some time, not that you are on drugs right now.  For more information on drug abuse visit

Prescriptions:  Here’s the problem. Many people get a headache and ask someone for a pill to help it out. Your friend gives you something stronger than your ibuprofen. The friend offers you something that she got with her last prescription. You can now be charged with DUI because you have a controlled substance in your body and you don’t have a prescription for it. It is a defense that the controlled substance was: (a) involuntarily ingested by the accused; (b) prescribed by a practitioner for use by the accused; or (c) otherwise legally ingested. See Utah Code Ann. 41-6a-517.  Therefore, if you do not have a prescription for whatever is in your body, you can be charged with a DUI.  Do not misunderstand me.  Even though you have a legal prescription, you still can be charged with DUI if the effects of the prescription are impairing you to the degree that you cannot drive safely.

Illegal Drugs:  Another problem is that my clients come in and say “I haven’t smoked pot for weeks, how can they charge me with DUI. I wasn’t impaired in any way.” This is where the metabolite comes in. If the remnants of the drug stay in your body and the police find it through a blood or urine test, you can be charged with DUI.

Legal Over-the-Counter Drugs:  Many people think that because they took a legal over-the-counter drug, they will not be charged with DUI.  Many clients tell the officer that they just took some cough syrup as an excuse for their drowsy driving.  Understand, if there is any drug, legal or non-legal, that is impairing you, you can be charged with DUI.  I have defended my share of NyQuil and Robitussin DUIs.

2 responses to “Metabolite Utah DUI–“But I’m not impaired!””

  1. We need to change this law. You can be picked up and charged with a metabolite DUI, car is impounded, you are placed in jail, you bail out, pay the excessive amount to Department of Transportation, you get a slip of paper stating you paid the excessive amount. You then show the towing company you’ve paid, pay the impound fee and you are on your way. BUT WAIT! You are still in violation of a metabolite DUI. You still have a substance in your system, but law enforcement doesn’t care because they’ve already got money out of you and they know you were not truly impaired in the first place.
    How can we get this law changed?


  2. @misty Good luck with that. Utah does not care about it’s people. They just want your money so they will arrest you for anything they possibly can even when it’s something very silly. I suggest you move out of that abyss.


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