Drivers on the roads of Provo, Utah may be stopped by the police and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if the police suspect they are intoxicated. While DUIs are relatively common, cases may vary greatly. Some drivers are charged with minor misdemeanors, while others face serious felonies.
Because DUI charges can be hard to predict, you need an experienced attorney on your side to help you fight your case. Evidence like the results of chemical testing and the behavior of the police during your DUI stop must be heavily scrutinized. An attorney can also argue to prevent prosecutors from upgrading your DUI charges to serious felonies.
Most drivers think of DUIs as their worst mistake. Do not let one serious mistake ruin the rest of your life. Call our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers to help fight your charges and reduce penalties. Call our team at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free legal consultation.
How Do Drivers Get Charged with DUIs in Provo, Utah?
While most people know that states impose “legal limits” on blood alcohol concentrations (BAC), you do not necessarily have to exceed the state’s legal limit to be charged with a DUI. Utah imposes a much stricter legal limit than most other states. While other states typically have a legal limit of around .08%, Utah imposes a limit of only .05%. This means it takes fewer drinks for a person to be over the limit.
If you are stopped by law enforcement with a BAC of at least .05%, you can be charged with a per se DUI. The police might stop you on suspicion of DUI and instead find that your BAC is a bit lower than .05%. However, if alcohol is detected in your system and the police believe you are unfit to drive due to intoxication, you can still be charged with a DUI.
The laws are even stricter for young, underage drivers. Generally, any underage drivers caught driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system will be charged with a DUI. Underage drivers may also face harsher consequences regarding their license and could lose their license until they turn 21. Call our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers for help fighting your DUI charges.
How Serious Are DUI Charges in Provo, Utah?
The severity of your DUI charges depends on your level of intoxication and your history of DUIs. A driver with a higher BAC or numerous DUIs on their record will face stricter charges than a first-time offender with a relatively low BAC. While DUI charges are often imposed as misdemeanors, they could be upgraded to serious felonies under certain circumstances.
According to Utah Code § 41-6a-503, a first or second violation will result in Class B misdemeanor charges. The charges may be upgraded to Class A misdemeanors if the driver caused bodily harm to another person while driving drunk, had a passenger under the age of 16, was 21 with a passenger under 18, was driving on the wrong side of the road, or was driving on a controlled-access highway.
A third or subsequent DUI violation within 10 years of the previous DUI conviction may be charged with a third-degree felony. A driver who causes serious bodily harm while driving drunk may also be charged with a third-degree felony. Our Provo, Utah DUI defense attorneys can help you assess the charges against you and figure out the best defense tactics and strategies.
After having previously been convicted of automobile homicide, a driver stopped for a DUI will be charged with a third-degree felony DUI. Similarly, if a driver has previously been convicted of a felony DUI, any subsequent DUI charges will be third-degree felonies.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in DUI Cases in Provo, Utah
Various factors surrounding your case can be used to either make your charges more serious or possibly reduce them. Aggravating factors are details that make the situation worse and can sometimes be used to justify an upgrade in charges. Mitigating factors are details that have the opposite effect and might lead a court to reduce your charges.
One example of an aggravating factor is your history of DUIs. As talked about earlier, a defendant with a history of DUIs might face upgraded charges. In some cases, the charges are upgraded to serious felonies. Generally, DUIs on your record from the last 10 years may influence your charges, but not anything older.
It might be possible to fight your charges if the conditions for upgrading to more serious misdemeanors or felonies are not present. For example, if your charges are upgraded to felonies because of your history of DUIs, but you have not had a DUI conviction in the last 10 years, we could fight the upgrade and keep your charges at a misdemeanor level.
Another aggravating factor might be injuries sustained by others in the accident. A person will be charged separately for each person they injure while driving drunk. If you injure 2 passengers in your own vehicle and 2 more in another vehicle, you can be charged with 4 separate offenses. The penalties for DUIs can add up very quickly, and you could lose your license, pay costly fines, or even go to jail. Call our Provo, Utah DUI defense attorneys for help.
Mitigating factors are important because they help us fight your charges. Mitigating factors may consist of anything that makes you look good in the eyes of a judge or jury. For example, showing remorse for your actions and cooperating with law enforcement throughout the case may make a prosecutor more inclined to reduce charges or offer a better plea agreement. Mitigating factors vary from case to case, and our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers can help you determine if any mitigating factors exist in your case.
Another mitigating factor might be any aid you provided at the scene of a DUI accident. Suppose you hit another car on the road and injured the driver after you had a few too many drinks at a bar. Next, suppose you immediately stopped and called for help for the injured driver, even though you knew the police would arrest you for a DUI. Your selfless actions after the accident might sway a court in your favor, and your penalties might be made less severe.
Evidence Used in DUI Cases in Provo, Utah
A DUI stop does not take very long, but most evidence against you will come from this brief interaction with law enforcement. It is important to discuss your DUI stop with an attorney in explicit detail. Possible defense strategies could lie in the elements of your stop.
Police may collect the very first bits of evidence before they even stop you. The police might observe a driver driving erratically or dangerously and suspect them of being intoxicated. Law enforcement will note things like weaving between lanes, speeding, drifting across lanes, and other driving behaviors commonly associated with drunk drivers. This evidence is also what establishes the reasonable suspicion for your DUI stop.
Once you are stopped, the police may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. These tests are minor physical tasks that are difficult for an intoxicated person to complete. They typically test things like balance, motor skills, and your ability to comprehend and follow instructions – all things that are impaired by alcohol.
After arrest, you are legally required to submit to chemical testing. While the police will not physically force you to comply, you may be criminally charged for refusal to submit to testing. Testing may include a breathalyzer at the scene of the arrest, but police will also typically pursue a blood test (or perhaps a urine test).
It might be possible to defend yourself against DUI allegations if the police did not follow proper procedures and protocol when stopping, arresting, or testing you. In such cases, the evidence against you would be tainted, and we could suppress it. Call our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers for help.
Chemical Testing and DUI Charges in Provo, Utah
As discussed earlier, drivers suspected of DUIs may have to submit to chemical testing. Chemical testing is often performed as a breath test but may also consist of blood or urine testing in some situations. While chemical testing is required by law, it is only required under specific conditions. If these conditions are not present, you should not be charged for refusal to submit to testing.
According to Utah Code § 41-6a-520(a), anyone driving on the roads and highways of this state is considered to have impliedly given their consent to chemical testing. This is often called the “implied consent law” and makes it very difficult to refuse chemical testing without invoking penalties. Even under the implied consent law, chemical testing is typically required only after a driver has been arrested for a DUI.
Other forms of testing may include portable breath tests that can be administered along the side of the road after a driver is pulled over. This kind of testing is often performed before the driver has been arrested. You can refuse this kind of testing without fear of legal repercussions. If you refused to take a breath test before being arrested for a DUI but were still charged for refusal, talk to our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers immediately.
How to Fight DUI Charges in Provo, Utah
One of the most effective methods to fight DUI charges is suppressing illegal evidence. Not all evidence is admissible in court. When the police collect evidence, such as alcohol bottles from your car or chemical testing results, they must follow very strict legal procedures. These procedures are designed to protect you and your legal rights from overreach by law enforcement. If the police violate these rules when thy seize evidence, the evidence is considered tainted and cannot be used in court.
We can suppress evidence with a pretrial motion. When making this motion, our Provo, Utah DUI defense lawyers will explain to the judge why the evidence is tainted and how the police violated the law. If the judge agrees with us, the evidence can never enter the courtroom and must not be considered when the judge or jury reaches a verdict.
Another tactic is to challenge the probable cause used by the police to justify your arrest. Before the police arrest you, they must gather enough probable cause to support the arrest. Probable cause is a somewhat vague term that encompasses any evidence or information that leads the police to believe a crime has been committed and you were the perpetrator. Whatever probable cause may be, it must be articulable. A mere hunch or gut feeling by the police officer is not sufficient probable cause. If we believe there was not enough probable cause for the police in your case to arrest you, we can challenge the validity of the arrest and any information or evidence seized pursuant to the arrest.
Other Consequences of DUI Convictions in Provo, Utah
There are consequences for DUI convictions beyond what is imposed by a judge. A DUI conviction comes with multiple complications that affect many aspects of your life. First, losing your driver’s license makes almost everything else in your life harder.
People need their driver’s license and access to a car to go to work, school, the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, weddings, and other important places and events. Without a car, you might have to rely on other people or public transportation for rides. If neither is available, you are simply stuck.
Second, now you have a DUI on your record. Convictions and arrests are on your criminal record forever and may be accessed by others. For example, a potential employer running a background check before you are officially hired might find the record of your arrest and conviction for a DUI. Depending on the job, they might rescind their offer. Jobs that require people to have a driver’s license or involve driving as a significant job duty (e.g., truck drivers, cab drivers, delivery drivers) are probably out of the question.
You also have to consider potential public backlash. Utah is filled with many small towns and communities, and word tends to get around quickly regarding things like criminal convictions and DUIs. Friends, neighbors, and coworkers might treat you differently when they find out you were convicted of a DUI.
The best way to avoid these consequences and others is to challenge your DUI before you are convicted. Our Provo, Utah DUI defense attorneys can help you fight the charges and hopefully avoid a conviction.
Call Our Provo, Utah DUI Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with a DUI, call our Provo, Utah DUI defense attorneys right away. The sooner we get started on your case, the sooner we can begin challenging your charges. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation with our team of experienced attorneys.