Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since January 1, 2020, please see the codification segue page.

NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.

R251. Corrections, Administration.

Rule R251-710. Search.

As in effect on January 1, 2020

Table of Contents

R251-710-1. Authority and Purpose.

(1) This rule is authorized under Sections 63G-3-201 and 64-13-10, and Subsections 64-13-14(1) and 64-13-17(2), of the Utah Code.

(2) The purpose of this rule is to provide the Department's policy, procedures, and requirements for conducting searches.

R251-710-2. Definitions.

(1) "Contraband", for purposes of this rule, means:

(a) materials, substances or other items not approved by the Department, or which are in numbers or amounts that are not approved, and which are otherwise known as regular contraband;

(b) materials, substances or other items possessed in violation of state or federal law and which are otherwise known as illegal contraband; or

(c) items that are not illegal, but are not authorized for an inmate to possess including items made from scraps of paper, wood, plastic, metal, wire, etc. and which are otherwise known as nuisance contraband.

(2) "Exigent circumstances" means circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that search is necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts.

(3) "Prison" means Utah State Prison in Draper and Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

(4) "Probable cause" means sufficient knowledge of articulable facts or circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that another person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime or a violation of a legally enforceable policy or rule.

(5) "Public" means persons constituting the general population of a state.

(6) "Reasonable suspicion" means suspicion based on specific articulable facts drawn from the totality of the circumstances facing the officer at the time.

(7) "Visitor" means members of the general public entering prison property.

R251-710-3. Policy.

(1) General Regulations

It is the policy of the Department that:

(a) search and seizure activities shall only be carried out by lawful means.

(2) Visitor Search

It is the policy of the Department that:

(a) the person, personal property, and/or vehicle of visitors are subject to limited, less-invasive searches by Department personnel, such as dog sniffs, metal detectors, and viewing the inside of vehicles, including trunks and compartments, as a condition of entering and remaining on the premises of the prison;

(b) an officer may seize contraband or evidence pertinent to an ongoing investigation;

(c) more invasive searches of the person, personal property, and/or vehicle of visitors may be conducted, and contraband and evidence pertinent to an ongoing investigation seized therefrom, by Department personnel upon reasonable suspicion coupled with voluntary consent;

(d) any visitor who refuses to give consent to a search based upon reasonable suspicion may be denied entrance and required to leave the premises of the prison;

(e) the alert of a police service dog shall constitute probable cause and an involuntary search may be legally conducted;

(f) mandatory searches shall be conducted of all vehicles leaving the prison; vehicle trunks and compartments shall be searched prior to exit;

(g) any person who refuses to give consent to a search of their vehicle upon exiting prison property shall have their vehicle detained until a regularly scheduled institutional count has cleared;

(h) notice shall be posted at the entrance to the prison that persons, their property and vehicles are subject to search while on prison property;

(i) an officer may assume the driver of a vehicle is the proprietary possessor and has the authority to consent to a search of the vehicle;

(j) vendors, construction workers, Department personnel, or other visitors whose presence is necessary and important to prison operation may have contraband confiscated and returned upon exiting prison property, may be asked to leave prison property, or may be arrested;

(k) all vehicles entering through a secure perimeter gate shall undergo a thorough search for contraband; discovery of contraband may result in arrest;

(l) mandatory searches shall be made of all vehicles accessing the double fence secure perimeters of the facilities; and

(m) a visitor to the prison who has an outstanding warrant may be arrested and searched or refused entry to the prison.

(3) Public Search

It is the policy of the Department that:

(a) the person and property of members of the general public may be searched, and contraband and evidence pertinent to an ongoing investigation seized therefrom, by Department personnel pursuant to the following limitations:

(i) their person, clothes, personal property, vehicle and residence based upon voluntary consent;

(ii) their person, clothes, and personal property immediately associated with their person may be involuntarily searched;

(A) to the extent necessary for an officer to determine if a person is carrying weapons, if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and presently dangerous to the officer or others;

(B) incident to lawful arrest;

(C) pursuant to a valid search warrant; or

(D) under exigent circumstances;

(iii) their vehicle may be involuntarily searched;

(A) based upon probable cause if the vehicle is readily mobile;

(B) incident to lawful arrest if the arrestee can access the passenger compartment of the vehicle or if failure to search could result in the loss of evidence pertaining to the crime underlying the arrest;

(C) pursuant to a valid search warrant; or

(D) pursuant to a vehicle inventory incident to the lawful impound thereof;

(iv) their residence may be involuntarily searched;

(A) pursuant to a valid search warrant;

(B) in the form of a protective sweep under exigent circumstances; or

(C) at the time of, or incident to, a lawful arrest of the owner or occupant thereof, but only that portion of the residence and personal property therein which is in the immediate control of the arrestee at that time.


corrections, search and seizure, security measures, prisons

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

October 12, 2011

Notice of Continuation

April 5, 2017

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law

64-13-7; 64-13-10; 64-13-14(1); 64-13-17(2)

Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R251, please contact the promulgating agency (Corrections, Administration). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.