Being charged with a crime and facing Utah’s criminal justice system can be overwhelming and scary. This is especially true if you are facing a potential criminal charge for driving under the influence (DUI). Utah has one of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Thus, it is essential to hire a skilled DUI Lawyer by your side. You may wonder if you can face DUI charges and a potential conviction if you refuse a breathalyzer test. Darwin Overson, from Overson Law, PLLC, explains.
Utah’s Implied Consent Laws and the Breathalyzer Test During a DUI
All lawfully-arrested drivers under suspicion of DUI are required to submit to chemical testing. Under Utah “implied consent rule,” drivers submit to this type of testing the moment they acquire their driver’s license. If the police pull you over, they can ask you to submit to a chemical test, which may include a blood or urine test, or blowing into a device commonly called a “breathalyzer.”
The breathalyzer test is arguably the most common type of field sobriety test used by police officers in Utah. Typically, you would be required to blow into the breathalyzer, which will analyze your breath and determine whether there is alcohol in your blood. If you have an amount of alcohol equal to or greater than 0.05% in your breath, you can be charged with DUI. Due to Utah’s implied consent law, refusing a breathalyzer during a DUI is a criminal offense. However, you may wonder whether refusing to a breathalyzer test automatically makes you guilty of DUI.
Am I Automatically Guilty of a DUI for Refusing a Breathalyzer in Utah?
Generally, you are not automatically guilty of DUI for refusing a breathalyzer test. However, this doesn’t mean you will not face other consequences. Refusing your breathalyzer can lead to your driver’s license suspension and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
Typically, refusing a breathalyzer test in violation of Utah’s implied consent laws can lead to a Class B misdemeanor charge. While misdemeanors are the less severe class of criminal offenses in Utah, they can still have potentially-devastating consequences over your life if convicted.
In order to get convicted of a DUI in Utah, you must be formally-charged and prosecuted. This means the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime for which you are being accused. Refusing a breathalyzer, while not indicative of intoxication, can help the prosecution establish that you wanted to hide that you were under the influence of alcohol. Unlike in other states, your breathalyzer test results – or its refusal – can be used as evidence against you.
If you are convicted of a Class B misdemeanor in Utah, you can spend up to six months in jail and face up to $1,000 in fines. In addition to these criminal penalties, your conviction will remain in your criminal record. Having a criminal conviction in your record can make it difficult for you to qualify for employment, a loan, or housing.
It is critical to understand that your Class B misdemeanor charges can be upgraded to a more severe offense depending on the circumstances of your case. If you have two prior DUI test refusals or have a prior felony DUI conviction, your charges can be elevated to a third-degree felony in Utah. The criminal penalties for a felony are more severe than misdemeanors. In Utah, if you are convicted of a third-degree felony, you can face up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. It is always in your best interest to hire an experienced DUI lawyer.
Can I Avoid the Penalties Associated with Refusing a Breathalyzer in Utah?
As we mentioned, if you refuse your breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended, and you may have an ignition interlock device installed in your car. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to defend yourself. You may have a legitimate reason to refuse your breathalyzer test.
It is a known fact that certain medical conditions such as the flu may yield a false DUI reading on the breathalyzer. This means a perfectly able driver may refuse the test, knowing they may be at risk of being charged with a DUI due to their medical condition. In your case, the police officer may not care about whether you have a medical condition or not. They will likely report your refusal to comply with your breathalyzer test and alert Utah’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to revoke your license.
Fortunately, the law provides you with a chance to request a hearing or administrative hearing to dispute the revocation of your driver’s license. However, you must act quickly to avoid missing the chance to fight for your driving privileges. According to Utah law, you have up to ten days from your license revocation to request your hearing.
During your hearing, you may be able to present evidence challenging the police officer’s actions and their actions during your detention. This is a great moment to provide the court with evidence of your medical condition and explain why submitting to the chemical test would have yielded a false positive. Additionally, you can question or challenge the constitutionality of the police officer’s intervention and collection of evidence suggesting you were driving under the influence. It is essential to have a skilled Salt Lake City attorney for a driver’s license division hearing by your side during this process.
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Handling DUI Charges
If you or a loved one was charged with a DUI or their driver’s license has been revoked after refusing to a breathalyzer test in Utah, we can help. For decades, our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys have helped thousands of defendants protect their constitutional rights and fight to have their charges reduced or dismissed. Our experienced attorneys can help you fight the suspension of your driver’s license after refusing a breathalyzer test. Call our law offices today to analyze your specific situation in a free, confidential consultation. Our phone number is (801) 758-2287.