While DUI might be a common offense, that does not mean the consequences are trivial. On the contrary, DUI is a very serious matter in Park City.
Depending on factors such as whether the DUI results in injury or death, whether the driver has a previous criminal record, and what the driver’s precise BAC (blood alcohol content) was at the time of the incident, penalties for a DUI in Park City can include long prison sentences, hundreds or thousands of dollars in restitution fines, and license suspensions and revocations. If you have been charged with DUI in Park City, it is critical to your success and the rest of your future that you retain the services of a skilled DUI defense lawyer as soon as you can.
Call our DUI defense lawyers today at Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free assessment of your case.
What Constitutes a DUI in Park City?
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Because of this terminology, many people incorrectly believe that DUI applies only to drunk drivers. While drunk drivers do make up the bulk of DUI cases, drivers who are under the influence of drugs, such as marijuana or methamphetamine, also fall within the scope of Utah DUI law.
Driving under the influence (DUI) does not only apply to passenger vehicles. Individuals who operate other types of vehicles, such as motorcycles, commercial rigs, boats, airplanes, and jet skis, can also face DUI charges. It is essential to be aware of this fact to avoid getting into legal trouble while operating any type of vehicle.
Drivers are tested for DUI based on their BAC or Blood Alcohol Content. Testing can be done with either a breathalyzer device or chemical testing. In either case, the legal limit for alcohol intoxication is 0.08%. If a driver’s BAC meets or exceeds 0.08%, it is a DUI.
It is important to note that while 0.08% is the usual threshold, there are special circumstances in which the BAC limit is lower. For commercial drivers who are carting bulky, heavy, and sometimes explosive or chemically sensitive loads, the BAC cut-off is reduced to 0.04%. For drivers who have been drinking underage (all drivers under 21 years of age), Utah observes a zero-tolerance policy, meaning that a 19-year-old driving with a BAC as low as 0.01% can be charged with DUI.
DUI Fines and Penalties in Park City
Drivers might believe that if they can somehow avoid giving their BAC to police officers, there will be no grounds upon which to charge them with DUI. This line of reasoning has already been considered by Utah lawmakers, which is why refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test in Park City is treated as an offense in and of itself.
The first time a driver refuses, their license will be suspended for 18 months. If they refuse a second time, the suspension period is increased to 3 years. If they refuse for a third time, the suspension remains for three years.
As with other crimes, the penalties for a DUI conviction become harsher as an individual accumulates multiple offenses.
In addition, there are mitigating and aggravating factors. For example, being respectful and cooperative with members of law enforcement can mitigate your case, while being aggressive and belligerent can aggravate your case.
Several aggravating factors can lead to more severe penalties for DUI offenders. One such factor is driving in a school zone, which is considered a highly risky scenario because of the presence of children.
Another aggravating factor is driving with a child as a passenger, which puts the child’s life in danger and is therefore viewed very seriously by the law.
Drinking while driving is also a major aggravating factor that can lead to harsher penalties since it poses a significant threat to public safety.
Finally, having a record of previous DUI offenses can also worsen the penalties, as repeat offenders are viewed as a high-risk group.
Consequences for DUI
While the consequences of a first-offense DUI might be more lenient than those for subsequent occurrences, that does not mean the penalties are trivial. License suspension, in particular, increases dramatically from a first offense to a second.
For a first offense, the penalty can still be quite severe. The offender might face a license suspension for up to 120 days, which can greatly impact their ability to travel and commute. Additionally, they might be sentenced to spend two days in jail, which can be a stressful and uncomfortable experience. Finally, they might be required to pay a fine of $700, which can be a significant financial burden.
In the case of a second offense, the penalties are even more severe. The offender’s license will be suspended for a period of two years. Additionally, the offender will have to serve a sentence of ten days in jail. Finally, the offender will be fined $800 for the offense committed.
If you commit a third offense, the consequences can be life-altering. Your license will be suspended for two years, and you will be required to spend a minimum of 1,500 hours in jail, equivalent to approximately 63 days. In addition to this, you will also be expected to pay a fine of $1,500.
Getting convicted of DUI can have severe consequences beyond just jail time, hefty fines, and license suspension. In addition to these penalties, offenders might also be required to attend alcohol and/or substance abuse counseling, complete court-ordered community service, and install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. These devices require drivers to blow into them, and if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a certain level, the car will not start. These additional penalties can impact an individual’s life, making it difficult to regain their driving privileges and move on from their mistake.
In some circumstances, such as a DUI that results in death, a DUI can be elevated to a felony charge (e.g., felony vehicular homicide). A felony conviction on your criminal record is a long-lasting and extremely challenging obstacle to struggle against. Many potential employers and landlords will review your criminal history when you try to apply for a new job or even for housing.
Defenses for DUI in Park City
When facing a DUI charge in Park City, there are various defenses that our team can utilize to challenge the validity of the arrest and potentially have the charges reduced or dismissed. Some common defenses include the following strategies:
Defending against DUI charges can be a complex process, and one of the most effective strategies is to use constitutional defenses. These defenses are grounded in our fundamental rights as individuals. They can be used to challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained illegally during a Park City DUI arrest.
One of the most important constitutional defenses is based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement officers violate this right by conducting an unlawful search or seizure, any evidence obtained as a result might be suppressed. For example, if an officer pulled you over without probable cause or a warrant, any evidence they collected during that traffic stop could be thrown out.
Another crucial defense is based on the Fifth Amendment, which grants individuals the right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves. If law enforcement officers failed to inform you of your Miranda rights or coerced you into making self-incriminating statements, the admissibility of that evidence might be challenged. For example, if an officer questioned you without first reading your rights, your statements could be excluded from evidence.
Finally, the Sixth Amendment guarantees us the right to legal counsel during critical stages of criminal proceedings. If law enforcement prevented you from consulting with an attorney or denied you access to legal representation, it might constitute a violation of this right. For example, if an officer refuses to allow you to contact an attorney after your arrest, any evidence collected after that point could be suppressed.
Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) have become a popular tool used by law enforcement in Park City when assessing impairment in drivers. These tests include the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests. However, it is important that these tests are conducted properly and by established guidelines to ensure the accuracy and credibility of the results as evidence.
Improper administration or failure to consider factors that could affect the test results can lead to inaccurate assessments. For instance, the walk-and-turn test requires the driver to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, turn on one foot, and take nine steps back.
However, if the driver has difficulty balancing because of an injury or a physical condition, it could affect their ability to perform the test accurately. Similarly, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test involves tracking an object with the eyes, and if the driver has a medical condition that affects their eye movements, it could lead to an inaccurate result.
Therefore, law enforcement personnel who administer these tests must be adequately trained and follow the established guidelines to ensure the results are reliable and admissible as evidence in court. If they do not, evidence seized from the stop could be barred from the case.
Challenge the Breathalyzer Calibration
Breathalyzer devices require regular upkeep, calibration, and testing to guarantee precise readings. Any indications that the device used in your case was not adequately maintained or calibrated might lead to questioning the results. Therefore, devices used during a breathalyzer test must undergo proper maintenance and calibration to prevent inaccurate readings.
Mouth Alcohol Defense
For breathalyzer tests, certain factors can affect the accuracy of the results. One such issue is the use of mouthwash, which contains alcohol and can cause the breathalyzer to register a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than is actually present.
Additionally, certain medical conditions can also produce a false positive on a breathalyzer test. For example, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause alcohol from the stomach to flow back up into the mouth, leading to inaccurate BAC readings.
Mouth alcohol, in general, can significantly impact the accuracy of breathalyzer tests, as it can linger in the mouth and affect the results for an extended period of time. If you were charged with DUI but denied drinking, we might be able to assert this defense.
Let Our Park City DUI Defense Attorneys Fight for You
Contact Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free evaluation of your case with our DUI defense attorneys.