Can a DUI Charge Get Dropped in Utah?
Getting charges dropped or dismissed is one of the primary goals for any criminal defense attorney. The same is true for DUI defense lawyers. A DUI charge is a criminal offense in Utah – one that Utah is taking more and more seriously. If you were charged with DUI in Salt Lake City or any of the surrounding areas, talk to a Salt Lake City DUI defense attorney about your case. Darwin Overson of Overson Law fights to prove your innocence and get your DUI charges dropped.
Getting DUI Charges Dropped in Salt Lake City
Understanding what it means to have charges “dropped” as opposed to “dismissed” is very important if you are facing criminal charges. When you go to court, the prosecutor has a lot of flexibility to decide whether your charges will continue, and what crimes should be added or removed from your list of charges. This is called “prosecutorial discretion,” and is an important part of our criminal justice system in Utah and across the country. If charges seem overly harsh, do not fit the facts, or come from illegal police activity, the prosecutor can choose to “drop” charges. A prosecutor’s job is to ensure that justice is done, not to simply get convictions. This means prosecutors will often drop unjust charges.
Alternatively, charges can only be “dismissed” by a judge. When your case goes to court, it is the government’s responsibility to prove you committed the crimes as charged. This means they must meet the “burden of proof.” At a preliminary hearing, the burden of proof is to show there was “probable cause” that you committed the crime. This means proving that it is likely that a crime occurred, and you were likely responsible. At trial, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means showing that you undoubtedly committed the crime as charged. If the government cannot meet their burden or the judge finds the charges do not fit the alleged activity, the judge may “dismiss” the charges.
Any criminal charge is eligible to be dropped or dismissed. However, many prosecutors may have instructions from their superiors or a personal rule that they will not drop charges. This may make it difficult to convince them your DUI charge is unjustified, but there is always the option of dismissal. Judges are held to a very high standard, and they cannot allow illegal or unjustified charges to go through. If your DUI charges do not fit the conduct or were the result of illegal police activity, your lawyer may be able to convince a judge to dismiss the charges.
DUI Crackdown in Utah
Utah recently became the first state to pass legislation to drop the “legal limit” for DUI from .08% to .05%. This percentage is a “blood alcohol concentration” (BAC) level. This is a measure of what percentage of your blood is pure alcohol. While most states across the country automatically consider it “drunk driving” to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher, Utah will switch to .05%. This may mean an increase in the number of DUI charges, and the seriousness with which police and prosecutors treat DUI offenses.
With this new legal limit, it is unclear how police and prosecutors may respond. The new law does not come into effect until the end of 2018, so the current limit is still .08%. If police closely follow the new law, there will be an increase in the number of arrests. Right now, you can be arrested for DUI with a BAC less than .08% only if you were incapable of safe driving. In 2019, you can be arrested for DUI with any BAC above .05%. A BAC of .05%, for most people, is a “buzzed” feeling, with only mild impairment. Many drivers that police would have normally let walk away uncharged may now be arrested and charged with DUI, instead.
Despite the increased number of possible arrests, there is no guarantee prosecutors will be as strict. Prosecutors may, at their discretion, drop charges that seem over the top or unfair. With the increased number of arrests for DUI, prosecutors may actually be willing to drop or reduce more DUI charges. Especially for low-BAC arrests around .05% BAC, prosecutors may not bother with the expense and time required to try a DUI case with a low BAC.
Despite this crackdown, the .08% limit still stands until the end of 2018. This means that any DUI charge where your BAC was under .08% is still likely to get dropped. Proving that you were so drunk you could not drive with a low BAC is difficult, and an experienced DUI attorney can argue these kinds of charges should be dropped.
Salt Lake City DUI Lawyer
If you were charged with DUI in Utah, talk to our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. Darwin Overson of Overson Law fights for the rights of the accused. Darwin may be able to take your DUI case along with traffic charges, vehicular homicide, and other related offenses, and fight to get your charges dropped and dismissed, especially for low BAC cases. Call (801) 733-1308 today for a free consultation on your DUI case.