Do I Need a Lawyer for a First-Time DUI in Utah?
In the state of Utah and across the country, drunk and drugged driving is unfortunately much more common than many people realize. While it one of the more common crimes, however, it is also one of those taken most seriously by the police and other authorities, and it can result in severe penalties including mandatory jail time. While it can be tempting to think that you can deal with a first-time DUI on your own, this is a very dangerous mindset to have. At Overson Law, PLLC, our skilled Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers have years of experience guiding our clients charged with DUI to a successful resolution of their cases. Below, we explain how your stop and arrest for DUI will typically work, when you should retain a lawyer in your DUI case, and how our lawyers can help you bring the matter to a successful resolution.
How Does a First-Time DUI Arrest Work in Utah?
You can be charged with the crime of DUI if you drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% or more, or with any amount of illegal, non-prescribed drugs in your system, even if it is just metabolites. Usually, the police will pull you over for a traffic violation or some sort of erratic driving that leads them to believe the driver of the vehicle may be driving under the influence. Sometimes, there can be random DUI checkpoints where all cars are checked, usually on holidays like Fourth of July or after big events like concerts.
The officer will ask you where you have been and how much you have had to drink, and will make observations such as if you are slurring your words, if the car smells like drugs, or if you have the smell of alcohol in your breath. They will then ask you to take a series of roadside sobriety tests. You do not have to speak to them or take the roadside tests. If they place you under arrest, however, you will have to comply with a Breathalyzer test as well as a urine or blood test if required. If you do not comply, you will be charged with the separate crime of refusal, which comes with its own steep penalties. Even if you refuse and your BAC is never measured, you can still be charged and convicted based on the officer’s observations.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help Me with My First-Time DUI Case?
From the beginning of your DUI case, things are likely to go much smoother and you have a far greater chance of getting off without the most severe penalties being imposed if you have an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer like those at Overson Law, PLLC on your side. Right from the start, you will want an attorney for your bail hearing, which will occur within 72 hours of your arrest. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to set bail or if you must be held in jail for the remainder of the case. While the judge is unlikely to hold you on a first-time DUI, our skilled Utah bail hearing attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can work to get you released on minimal or no bail. We know the most persuasive arguments to make and the factors the judge considers in making a bail decision, including your criminal record and ties to the local community.
We can then work to collect all the outstanding evidence and argue to the prosecutor that your charges merit being downgraded or dismissed. For your first DUI offense, you will typically be charged with a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,500. Utah mandatory sentencing guidelines for DUI offenses also mandate at least 2 days in jail. However, if certain conditions are met, such as your drunk driving being the proximate cause of someone suffering bodily injuries or if you had a passenger under the age of 16 with you in the vehicle at the time that you drove under the influence, the charge can be raised to a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. In some cases, such as where serious bodily injury is caused, the charge can be upped to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and fines up to $5,000.
Our skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can work to mitigate the damage and get these penalties reduced. Possibilities of a deal include the prosecutor agreeing to downgrade the charges to something less serious like reckless driving, or the prosecutor recommending a lenient sentence to the judge in exchange for you entering a not guilty plea and saving the state the cost and time of putting on a trial. If you do not wish to take a deal or are not satisfied with the deal offered, there are a number of defenses we can employ at trial, including challenging the findings of the Breathalyzer test. Our battle-tested trial attorneys will leave no stone unturned making their case to the judge or jury that your guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that you should therefore be found not guilty.
Call Our Experienced Utah DUI Defense Attorneys Today
DUI is a very serious charge that can come with life-changing penalties and consequences. As such, it is vital that you reach out to and retain an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC as soon after your arrest as possible. The quicker you engage us, the better chance we have of getting your charges downgraded or dismissed. Call our firm today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.