Being pulled over because of a potential DUI (driving under the influence) in Utah can be stressful and overwhelming. This is especially true if you have never faced problems with the law before. One of the things a police officer can ask if they suspect you may be under the influence of alcohol is to perform a breathalyzer test.
You may have doubts about how the whole process works and whether you have the choice to refuse the test. If you or a loved one was charged with refusing a breathalyzer test and now face potential criminal penalties, you need to call Salt Lake City DUI defense attorney Darwin Overson from Overson Law PLLC today. Our phone number is (801) 758-2287.
Understanding Utah’s DUI Laws in Utah
Utah is extremely strict when it comes to drunk driving under Utah Law § 41-6a-502. Furthermore, Utah currently has the lowest BAC (blood alcohol concentration) in the U.S., making it one of – if not – the toughest states when it comes to DUI. If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the police can pull you over.
Different things can happen after the police stop you under the suspicion of drunk driving. First, the police will ask you whether you know why you were pulled over. If they smell alcohol in your breath, they will ask you to step out of your vehicle to perform a field sobriety test. Second, the police officer may not detect any erratic behavior or potential DUI and may let you leave with a warning.
However, in most cases, the police officer will ask to perform the field sobriety test, which may include a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer is a device with a plastic tube on which the officer will ask you to blow. The device will analyze your breath to detect any trace of alcohol. If the breathalyzer detects alcohol above Utah’s BAC, you can face severe consequences.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Utah
From a legal standpoint, you should never refuse a breathalyzer test. According to Utah law, you are legally required to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if arrested under drunk driving suspicion. This is part of what is known as Utah’s “implied consent” law.
Under the implied consent law, an officer can ask you to perform a breathalyzer test if they had probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence of alcohol and arrested you following protocol. Additionally, you automatically consent to this type of test upon approval of your driver’s license. If you refuse to a breathalyzer during a DUI, you expose yourself to criminal penalties.
Penalties for a Refused Breathalyzer During a DUI in Utah
The penalties for a refused breath test in Utah can be severe. If you are stopped under suspicion of DUI and refuse to get the breath test done, you will likely face the suspension of your driver’s license. If you are a first-time offender, your license can be suspended for up to eighteen months. However, your driver’s license suspension can increase depending on whether you have a previous record of similar offenses. If you have a prior record for the same or similar offense, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to three years.
In addition to your driver’s license suspension, you can have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle. All IIDs have a plastic tube where you will have to blow to start your car’s engine. If the device detects any trace of alcohol in your breath, your car won’t start, and your failed test will be kept on record. In some cases, these devices can take visual evidence to show whether you or someone else is blowing on the IID tube.
Additionally, you may face a probation period that can last from five to ten years, depending on the circumstances of your case. During this time, you cannot drive with any amount of alcohol in your system. If the police stop you, and they detect alcohol in your blood – while on probation – your penalties can increase.
If you are charged with an alcohol restricted driver violation in Utah, you can face penalties equal to or greater than a DUI conviction. A first DUI violation in Utah is a Class B misdemeanor punishable with up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Defending Myself Against My Refused Breathalyzer Charges in Utah
As we mentioned, you implicitly consent to get a breathalyzer test done, and you may lose your driver’s license privileges for an extended period. However, you can still challenge your license suspension by requesting a hearing within ten calendar days of the notice of suspension of your license. It is essential to make your request in writing and deliver it within the ten-day limit.
You can address two main issues in your hearing: the legal basis for your detention and whether you refused to take the test. During the hearing, you have the burden of showing the officer in your case lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe you were under the effects of alcohol. Breathalyzer cases may raise constitutional issues that need to be analyzed carefully to determine whether the police officer’s actions were legal. Any evidence a police officer obtains in violation of your constitutional rights cannot be admitted as evidence in a court of law.
This legal matter is critical for one single reason; the results of a breathalyzer test can – and most likely will – be used against you. Thus, challenging the circumstances of your detention may lead to a dismissal of your charges. Our Salt Lake City DUI lawyer can help you with these legal matters.
Salt Lake City for Refused Breathalyzer During DUI Offering Free Consultations
Refusing a breathalyzer test during a DUI can lead to serious consequences. If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with refusing a DUI test in Utah, we can help. At the law offices of Overson Law PLLC, we know how challenging, overwhelming, and frustrating it can be to deal with Utah’s criminal justice system. However, we can fight aggressively and strategically to uphold your rights. Call our law offices today and schedule your free, confidential consultation with our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at (801) 758-2287.