DUI charges are not that uncommon in Utah. After a night out with friends, it can be all too easy to get behind the wheel when you are not exactly sober. Most people convicted of a DUI remember it as one of the biggest mistakes of their life. While DUI charges can have serious consequences, you do not have to allow them to run your life. Our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys have experience in fighting DUI charges and helping clients avoid extremely harsh penalties. Read on to learn more about how to fight a DUI charge in Utah from the team at Overson Law, PLLC.
Getting Charged with a DUI in Utah
There are several different ways in which a driver can be stopped for a DUI. Most often, drivers are stopped by the police due to erratic or suspicious driving that leads the police to believe the driver is intoxicated. Telltale signs of a drunk driver are things like weaving between lanes, speeding up and slowing down, running lights, and other forms of reckless driving. The police do not need additional reasons to pull you over, like a broken taillight or a moving violation. Suspicion of DUI alone is enough to justify the stop.
Other times, drivers are stopped at planned checkpoints. Checkpoints are areas along the road where the police will stop vehicles and check for drunk drivers. No suspicion of intoxication is required, but the police must adhere to a pre-planned checking system, such as checking every third car. These checkpoints are set up in advance and their date, time, and location are publicly made known ahead of time. While drivers may choose a route that circumvents the checkpoint, they may not leave the checkpoint once they are in it.
We might be able to defend against your DUI charges if you were stopped unlawfully before being arrested. It may be difficult to prove, but if you were stopped for an unlawful, arbitrary reason, you could challenge the underlying DUI. For example, if you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint where the police were stopping every third car, but you were the fourth car, this might be an unlawful stop. However, we would need to prove the stop was due to an invalid reason, like your race or ethnicity, rather than just an honest mistake by the police.
Defending Against Breathalyzer Tests for DUIs in Utah
The police must have enough probable cause to execute an arrest for a DUI. Probable cause can come from the police’s general observations, such as your erratic driving or slurred speech. It can also come from testing like a breathalyzer or field tests that include small physical tasks that require fine motor skills.
In Utah, a breathalyzer test can be used against you as evidence. As such, these breathalyzer testing devices must adhere to strict regulations and the police must follow specific protocols. One such protocol is that an officer may require you to submit to a breathalyzer test only after arresting you. This is allowed under implied consent laws, making it mandatory for arrested drivers to submit to chemical testing.
If you were made to submit to a breathalyzer test before your arrest despite refusing, this may be grounds for your DUI defense. An unlawful search or seizure may be grounds for a motion to suppress evidence. If you believe you were unlawfully forced to take a breathalyzer test, we may be able to suppress the results of that test. We could also possibly challenge your arrest if it was significantly based on that breathalyzer test.
Assessing the Evidence Against You for DUI Charges in Utah
There are additional ways to challenge the evidence against you without suppressing it. For example, if your breathalyzer test were lawfully admitted, we could still challenge the results if the breathalyzer device was not correctly calibrated. An improper test could be indicated by comparing the pre-arrest test results if given and a post-arrest test. These test results should be relatively similar. If they are drastically different, at least one test may have been faulty or administered improperly.
We can also argue against the cause of any injuries. If someone is injured due to your DUI, your charges could be upgraded and have harsher penalties. However, if we can argue that another independent source caused those injuries, we might be able to avoid an upgrade in charges. For example, if another driver was injured because they claimed you ran them off the road while driving under the influence, we could counter with evidence that the other driver ran off the road because of their own negligent driving. If your actions are not the proximate cause of their injuries, you should not be held responsible.
How Your DUI History Affects Your Case in Utah
If we cannot get your DUI charges dropped, we can still work to prevent them from being upgraded. Generally, a driver with a history of DUIs will face increasingly harsher penalties than a first-time offender. However, these previous DUIs must have occurred within a certain period of time, usually the past ten years.
We might be able to challenge an upgrade in your DUI charges if we can show that some of your previous DUIs were not in fact DUIs. In some cases, DUIs are negotiated down to lesser charges that do not count toward an upgrade in your current charges. Prosecutors will sometimes mistakenly try to count charges from your past that should not be counted. Similarly, we can identify charges that occurred more than ten years ago and make sure they are excluded.
Impaired Driving vs. DUI Charges in Utah
Plea bargains are frequently used in the criminal justice system to move cases through as quickly as possible. As part of a plea bargain, the defendant will agree to plead guilty and the prosecutor will reduce their charges in return. DUI charges are commonly reduced to charges for impaired driving as part of a plea bargain. Charges for impaired driving typically come with lesser penalties like lower fines and shorter license suspensions. In some cases, we may be able to avoid a license suspension altogether. However, this may only be available to you if you have no prior DUIs on your record.
Contact Our Utah DUI Defense Attorneys to Discuss Your Case
If you have been charged with a DUI in Utah and wish to challenge the charges against you, please reach out to our Utah criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to get in touch with our legal team.