One of the most common crimes charged in the state of Utah is driving under the influence, or DUI. Being pulled over under suspicion of DUI can be a frightening and disorienting experience, especially if you have no previous experience interacting with law enforcement. You may not know what your rights are or what steps you should be taking to best protect yourself and your liberty. Below, our experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys explain whether you are required to speak to the police during a DUI stop, how the stop will work, and how we can help you if you are placed under arrest.
Do I Have to Talk to the Police during a DUI Stop in Utah?
Generally speaking, you do not have to talk to the police or answer their questions aside from giving them your name. However, as a licensed driver you are required to provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request. Beyond this, you do not have to answer any questions that the police ask you. You also do not have to comply with any roadside sobriety tests they ask you to perform, though the fact that you refused can be used against you at trial.
It is best to be polite to the officer, but to refuse to answer any substantive questions without the presence of an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney, like those at Overson Law, PLLC, who is working for you. Even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide, the officers have ways of twisting your words around and, without a lawyer present, you are opening yourself up to potential liability every time you open your mouth.
How Does a Utah DUI Stop Typically Work?
Most of the time, officers pull someone over on suspicion of DUI if they see them driving in an erratic or unusual manner. However, what start as normal stops for traffic tickets like speeding can quickly turn into a DUI stop if the officer smells alcohol on your breath, hears you slur your words, or has some other reason to believe you might be driving drunk. Furthermore, there are sometimes DUI checkpoints set up outside of events like concerts or sporting games or on holiday weekends when people often overindulge in alcohol. The police will stop everyone at these checkpoints and will sometimes ask to conduct a portable breathalyzer test, which you can refuse unless you have been placed under arrest. Once you have been arrested you must consent to a breathalyzer test or you can be charged with the separate crime of refusal.
At the stop, the officer will usually ask for your license, registration and insurance information, which you must provide. The officer might then ask you a series of questions like “have you been drinking” or “where are you coming from.” Again, you should be polite, but you should refuse to answer anything aside from questions about your basic information until your lawyer is present.
The officer may then ask you to perform the field sobriety tests. These tests can be unreliable, but are permitted to be used as evidence against you. As noted above, you can refuse. At this point, if the officer believes that there is probable cause to believe that you were driving drunk, they can place you under arrest and transport you back to the station. You required by law to submit to a breathalyzer test as well as a blood or urine test after a DUI arrest. However, even after you have been arrested and taken back to the police station, you still do not have to talk to the police, and should not do so at least until your lawyer arrives.
How Can A Lawyer Help Me If I Am Arrested after a Utah DUI Stop?
Assuming your breathalyzer test does not come back negative, resulting in the officers dropping the charges, after your are booked you will be held in the station’s holding cell or at the local jail until your initial appearance and bail hearing can be held, usually no more than 72 hours after you are booked. At the initial appearance, the judge will read the charges against you and advise you of your rights during a criminal case. In misdemeanor DUI cases, it will also include your arraignment, where you are asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty. It is advisable to have retained a skilled Utah attorney for a criminal arraignment like those at Overson Law, PLCC by this point, as we are likely to advise you to enter a not guilty plea while we collect all the evidence and assess the strength of the case.
You will certainly want to have a skilled bail hearing attorney for your bail hearing, where the judge will decide if you can released on your own recognizance, or without bail, if bail should be set, or if you must be held in jail until the matter is resolved. Our attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC know how to make the most persuasive arguments to get the judge to release you on little to no bail.
Once you have been released, we can work on negotiating a potential deal with the prosecutor to get your DUI charges downgraded or dismissed. If this is your first time being charged with DUI, we might be able to get you into a pre-trial diversion program, where your charges will be dropped if you complete the program successfully. Other possible deals include the charges being downgraded to something less serious or the prosecutor making a lenient sentencing recommendation to the judge. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, our skilled trial lawyers stand ready and able to defend your innocence in the courtroom.
If You Were Arrested for a DUI, Call Our Skilled Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
DUI is a serious charge that comes with serious penalties. If you speak to the police without your lawyer present, you could make the situation even worse. At Overson Law, PLLC, our West Valley City criminal defense attorneys have years of experience working with clients charged with DUI across the state to get their charges dropped or downgraded. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.