Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that can infiltrate every area of a person’s life. Retaining a lawyer in preparation for a DUI hearing can be a daunting process. In some cases, whether the arresting officer arrives for a DUI hearing can affect the outcome of a defendant’s case. If you or a family member was arrested for driving under the influence, consult with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer. Overson & Bugden is dedicated to providing criminal defendants with aggressive legal representation to fight their case. Our firm is here to explain the consequences of an arresting officer arriving or failing to arrive for a case.
What Happens if a Cop Does not Attend Your DUI Hearing?
Many people have been misled to believe that if a law enforcement officer fails to arrive for a DUI hearing in Salt Lake City that the court will automatically dismiss the charges against a defendant or that a law enforcement officer will never attend a DUI hearing. This is not true. It is important for defendants to understand what occurs if a police officer fails to show for a trial as it will help to avoid having unreasonable expectations for their case.
The arresting officer in a DUI case is typically the key witness against a defendant. The officer can testify regarding a variety of issues:
- The identity of the defendant
- The circumstances of the arrest like why the officer chose to pull over the defendant
- The procedures taken to determine intoxication (e.g., breathalyzer or blood test)
Note, however, that the arresting officer is not required to attend every hearing regarding your Salt Lake City DUI case. For example, as no testimony is heard during the arraignment of a defendant before a judge, the arresting officer does not have to attend this initial hearing. Unless there is a hearing that requires testimony, the arresting officer will not have to make an appearance until the date of your trial.
Reasons an Officer May Fail to Appear for a DUI Hearing
There are a number of reasons that a law enforcement officer may fail to appear for a DUI hearing. For example, an officer could have been injured in the line of duty and may be unable to attend court.
Note, however, that an arresting officer may not have a valid reason for missing court. A law enforcement officer may have to attend multiple DUI hearings within the span of a month. As a result, the officer may not make it to every case or could have easily confused the dates for a trial.
Consequences of an Arresting Officer Missing a DUI Hearing
The consequences of an arresting officer missing a DUI hearing is decided by the judge presiding over the case. If the offense was a minor traffic infraction, it is likely that the judge could dismiss the charges. However, the State of Utah takes DUI cases seriously, which means that a defendant’s case will not simply be dismissed after an officer fails to appear.
The judge in the case will likely evaluate the reason for the officer’s failure to attend. For example, if the officer had an emergency or was needed to perform law enforcement duties elsewhere, the judge will typically issue a continuance. A continuance will move a defendant’s trial to another date to allow the arresting officer another opportunity to testify.
If the arresting officer fails to show for a DUI hearing after the judge has issued a continuance, there are multiple options that may be presented to a defendant. One possibility is that the defendant will be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser offense than driving under the influence in Utah. As a result, the judge would impose less severe penalties and fines.
Another possibility is that a judge could consider dismissing the charges against the defendant. If this happens, the defendant will not be punished for their alleged offense.
Speaking with an experienced attorney regarding your case can help provide you with details on what may occur if a cop fails to show up for a DUI hearing in Salt Lake City. An experienced attorney would be aware of the inclinations of particular judges or the likelihood of police officers attending a trial.
However, it should be stated that gambling on whether a law enforcement officer will attend a trial is not a viable legal strategy for handling a DUI case. Retaining an experienced DUI lawyer that knows Utah’s criminal justice system is a much safer bet.
Contact Our Skilled Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
If you or a family member was arrested for a DUI offense, contact an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer today. With nearly 20 years of legal experience litigating a variety of complex criminal claims, criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson would be honored to use his legal experience to represent you. You do not have to fight your DUI case alone. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your case, contact Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287, or contact us online.