If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, it can be a scary and stressful time. You probably have many questions on your mind, such as what sort of DUI penalties you could face, who will find out about the charges against you, and whether there could be any negative consequences for your job or career.
Drugged and drunk driving convictions can lead to serious legal consequences in Utah, including jail time, fines, restitution, probation, long-term loss of your driving privileges due to license suspension, and other penalties. It is critically important that you have a skilled, experienced, and aggressive Salt Lake City, Utah DUI lawyer on your side to protect your rights and fight for your freedom.
Call our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys for help with your DUI charges. To set up a free legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 immediately. Our team has experience handling a wide variety of DUI cases and we can help you minimize penalties and hopefully get your license restored.
Types of DUI Charges Our Lawyers Handle in Salt Lake City
The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice reported over 13,000 DUI arrests in 2012. That averages out to more than 35 drunk driving arrests every single day. Utah has tried to reduce DUI accidents by aggressively prosecuting people who allegedly drive while intoxicated, so you need an experienced criminal attorney who knows what sorts of defense strategies can be utilized in drunk driving cases.
Salt Lake City drunk driving attorney Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience representing thousands of clients in a wide variety of criminal cases, including:
- Breathalyzer refusal cases
- Commercial driver DUI
- DUI resulting in death or injury
- DUI with marijuana, methamphetamine, and other drugs
- High BAC DUI
- Repeat DUI with prior offenses
- Underage DUI (drinking and driving under age 21)
Darwin represents both adult and juvenile defendants in intoxicated driving cases, and handles numerous misdemeanor and felony charges involving alcohol and automobiles, including but not limited to:
- Automobile Homicide – Utah Code § 76-5-207
- Breathalyzer Refusal – Utah Code § 41-6a-520
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Utah Code § 41-6a-502
- Impaired Driving – Utah Code § 41-6a-502.5
- Operating a Vehicle without an Ignition Interlock System – Utah Code § 41-6a-518.2
- Public Intoxication – Utah Code § 32B-4-421
- Reckless Driving – Utah Code § 41-6a-528
- Tampering with an Ignition Interlock System – Utah Code § 41-6a-518.1
- Vehicular Manslaughter – Utah Code § 76-5-205
Whatever alcohol-related charges you or your family member may be facing, call Darwin Overson right away to start exploring your legal options. It is vital to begin analyzing the charges and preparing for court as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah.
Were You Charged with Driving While Intoxicated in Salt Lake City?
While many jurisdictions throughout the United States impose “legal limits” for drunk driving of about .08%, Utah is stricter and imposes a somewhat lower limit. Generally speaking, a person can be charged with DUI under Utah Code § 41-6a-502 if his or her BAC, or blood alcohol content, is 0.05 or greater. This lower limit means it will take fewer drinks for a person to become intoxicated enough to be charged with a DUI. However, certain types of drivers can be charged with drunk driving with a much lower BAC.
For example, CDL drivers, such as professional truck drivers, can be charged with intoxicated driving for having a BAC of just 0.04. Under state law, drunk drivers who are under the legal drinking age of 21 can be charged with intoxicated driving for having a BAC as low as 0.01. Utah strictly enforces a zero-tolerance policy for drivers who drink while underage.
When it comes to DUI with drugs instead of alcohol – for instance, driving under the influence of marijuana – the driver’s BAC is obviously not a measurable factor. In cases of suspected drugged driving, Utah relies partially on “drug recognition experts” (D.R.E.s), who undergo special training to detect the signs of intoxication by marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, prescription painkillers, and other controlled substances.
Impaired driving is a separate but closely related offense under Utah Code § 41-6a-502.5. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to have a drunk driving conviction entered as an impaired driving conviction with the prosecutor’s agreement. Impaired driving is a lesser offense than intoxicated driving. Contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers for more information about being charged for drunk driving.
DUI Checkpoints in Salt Lake City
One way the police try to find intoxicated drivers is through DUI checkpoints. These checkpoints are locations on the road or highway where the police will stop cars without having any suspicion of intoxication. These checkpoints are legal, but only when specific procedures are followed and certain conditions are fulfilled.
First, checkpoints must be made known to the public ahead of time. The police cannot surprise the local community with a DUI checkpoint on the busiest road in town. Usually, the police will issue a notice in the local media, such as newspapers or on TV news stations, about the upcoming DUI checkpoint.
DUI checkpoints must also be based on a valid need or reason. The police cannot set up a checkpoint simply because it is an easier way of finding drunk drivers. The time and location of the checkpoint must relate to some existing needs. For example, if the police have noticed more drunk drivers in a particular part of town when bars in the area host live bands on the weekends, the police may have a good and valid reason to set up a DUI checkpoint on Saturday nights.
Checkpoints must also follow a pre-planned system for stopping drivers. The police do not ordinarily stop every single driver, as that would bring traffic to a grinding halt. Instead, they may follow a system in which they stop every third or fourth driver. However, they may not stop drivers for arbitrary reasons, like the driver’s race or the kind of car they drive. This would be unlawful and grounds for challenging the stop.
If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint and believe the stop was in some way unlawful, please contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys for assistance.
Utah Drunk Driving Penalties: Jail, Fines, and License Suspension
As mentioned above, intoxicated driving convictions can lead to the imposition of devastating penalties. These penalties can become even harsher if there are any aggravating factors, such as:
- Having a record of previous offenses
- Causing injury or death
- Committing DUI with a minor passenger
Under Utah Code § 41-6a-503, a second or first offense DUI in Utah is a Class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor. A third offense is generally a third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. Utah penalties for DUI are listed below.
First Offense DUI
- Jail Sentence – Minimum 48 hours
- License Suspension – 120 days
- Fine – Typically a minimum of $1,400, including court fees
Second Offense DUI
- Jail Sentence – Minimum 10 days
- License Suspension – 2 years
- Fine – Typically a minimum of $1,600
Third Offense DUI
- Prison Sentence – Maximum 5 years
- License Suspension – 2 years
- Fine – Maximum $5,000
While criminal fines, license suspensions, and jail sentences are the first penalties most defendants think about, they are far from being the only repercussions of a drunk driving conviction. In addition, you could also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car, meaning the engine will not start if the device detects alcohol on your breath. You may also be ordered to perform community service, be placed on probation, or be required to receive counseling or treatment. You could even lose your gun privileges. If you are facing DUI charges, contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys for help.
Multiple DUIs and “Super DUIs” in Salt Lake City
Super DUIs are DUIs that are so heinous that they are upgraded to class A misdemeanors or even felonies. One such example of a super DUI, as mentioned above, is when a defendant has been charged with their third DUI offense within the past ten years. If you have been charged with your third DUI, you may be facing penalties for a third-degree felony.
Other reasons your DUI charges may be enhanced to super DUIs is if someone was injured or killed in an accident related to your DUI. Drunk driving is taken so seriously by the police and courts because it puts everyone on the road at risk. Serious car accidents involving drunk drivers are not uncommon, and sometimes people are seriously injured or killed. In such cases, the defendants may face enhanced penalties for their DUI to reflect the gravity of the situation. Our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers can discuss your case and determine if you may face enhanced penalties.
Field Sobriety Tests for DUIs in Salt Lake City
If you were stopped for a DUI in Utah, the police officer conducting your stop might have asked you to perform something called a field sobriety test. These tests are typically small, physical tests that require your more refined motor skills to complete. These tests sometimes seem silly because they are very easy for a sober person to complete. However, an intoxicated person may have difficulty completing these tasks.
Common examples of field sobriety tests include walking in a straight line, jumping up and down on one leg, and following a moving pen with your eyes. The police typically use these tests to gather enough probable cause to place you under arrest. As such, you typically have the right to refuse to submit to field sobriety tests. You might be able to challenge the validity of the testing if you were forced to do it against your will.
You can also challenge the field sobriety tests if they were administered in an unfair way. For example, if you were asked to jump up and down on one leg, but you had to do so on a steep incline on the side of the road, you are more likely to lose your balance and fall. The results of this test could unfairly indicate that you were so intoxicated that you could not remain upright. There may be other factors that hinder your ability to complete these tests, such as bright headlights from other cars shining in your face or rainy weather.
You may also challenge the results of field sobriety tests when you have medical conditions that make performing these tests difficult. For example, a defendant with impaired motor skills will have trouble completing many tests even while completely sober. Contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers to discuss the results of your field sobriety tests.
What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
Technically speaking, it is within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer test, which requires you to blow into a device that measures your BAC before being arrested. If you have not yet been arrested, and the police wish to have you submit to a breathalyzer test, they must have a warrant or your consent. However, you should be aware that refusing a breathalyzer after being arrested in Utah can lead to penalties similar to those imposed for an actual DUI conviction.
This stems from a law known as “implied consent.” Utah’s implied consent law, which can be found at Utah Code § 41-6a-520, holds that all drivers are considered to have given their consent to a chemical test or breath test, simply by the act of operating a vehicle. If a driver refuses a breathalyzer in violation of the implied consent law, there can be serious consequences for your driving privileges. License suspension penalties are described below.
- First Breathalyzer Refusal – 18-month license suspension
- Second Breathalyzer Refusal – 3-year license suspension
- Third Breathalyzer Refusal – 3-year license suspension
Keep in mind, the police will not physically force you to submit to post-arrest chemical testing or breathalyzer tests. However, they will advise you of the penalties for refusing to submit to such testing. If you refused to submit to testing and are now facing additional penalties, contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers immediately.
Challenging the Reason for Your DUI Stop in Salt Lake City
When the police stop you for a suspected DUI, some legal procedures and protocols must be followed if the stop is to be valid. If these rules are not followed, you may have grounds to challenge the validity of the stop. It is imperative to discuss every detail of your DUI from start to finish with your attorney so they can identify possible defense claims. Our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers can figure out the best way to approach your case and craft a defense strategy.
Your DUI stop must be based on some reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence. In many cases, the police obtain this reasonable suspicion because they can see you driving erratically or in a dangerous manner. Swerving in and out of lanes, driving at unsafe speeds, or driving the wrong way down one-way streets tend to raise the suspicions of the police. The police may not pull you over for unlawful or arbitrary reasons. For example, if you believe a police officer stopped you because of your race or ethnicity, the entire stop may be invalidated.
If your stop was indeed a valid one, there might still be other ways to challenge your DUI. For example, if the police have you submit to chemical testing, the equipment used to test you must be in proper working order. This means things like breathalyzer devices must be calibrated and the tests must be performed to yield accurate results. If you believe the results of a BAC test are inaccurate for whatever reasons, you may be able to challenge your DUI.
You may also be able to challenge your DUI if the police forced you to submit to a breathalyzer test before you were arrested. The police frequently use breathalyzer tests, but if you have not been arrested, you must consent to the testing or there must be a warrant. If neither were present, you might have a defense claim. Consult with our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys for guidance.
Requesting a Hearing with the Driver’s License Division (DLD) in Salt Lake City
Something many defendants do not realize is that there are two aspects of their DUI case. There is the criminal aspect that most are familiar with, then there is the civil aspect that deals with the suspension of your driver’s license. License suspensions are not criminal penalties as most believe they are. They are actually civil penalties that can be challenged in separate administrative proceedings.
After being arrested and charged with a DUI, you have a very narrow window of time to apply for a hearing regarding your license with the Driver License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety. You have only ten days to request this hearing. If you miss this deadline, your license will be suspended. Your time starts counting down the day you are arrested for a DUI.
Because the DLD hearing is non-criminal, it has no bearing on the outcome of your criminal DUI proceedings. This means that if you are successful at the DLD hearing, your license may be restored, and you will not have to serve the suspensions. However, you may still be found guilty of the DUI in criminal court and serve any criminal sentences or penalties.
However, if you lose at your DLD hearing, but you are successful at your criminal hearing, the DLD decision may be reversed, and your license will be restored. This presents a unique opportunity for DUI defendants and their attorneys. Your attorney can test out their case strategy and evidence at the DLD hearing. Depending on the outcome of that hearing, your attorney can make adjustments to their case strategy and hopefully be successful at the following criminal hearing.
If you have recently been arrested for a DUI and you believe you may still be within the time window for a DLD hearing, contact our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers immediately. We can work to hopefully get your license restored and fight your criminal charges.
What If I Get a DUI in Salt Lake City but Live in a Different State?
Being a resident of a different state will not exempt you from the penalties of a DUI in Utah. As with any criminal offense, the criminal penalties associated with a DUI in Utah will follow you no matter where you go. Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to return to Utah to deal with your charges and possibly serve your sentence.
Many drivers wonder how a license suspension in Utah will affect their out-of-state driver’s license. After all, Utah does not have the power to reach across its borders and suspend a license issued by another state. However, Utah may revoke your driving privileges within its own borders. This means for the rest of your stay in Utah, you may not be permitted to drive. This may be problematic for people who live in a neighboring state but commute to Utah regularly for work or school.
If your license is suspended in Utah for a DUI, there is a good chance your home state will suspend your license as well. Many states are part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. This compact is like an agreement between states to uphold license suspensions issued in other states. So, if Utah suspends your license for a few months, your home state will likely suspend your license for the same amount of time.
If you are an out-of-state driver charged with a DUI in Utah, you should consult with a Utah attorney to handle your case. Our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers can help you fight your charges in Utah and help you figure out the possible penalties in your home state.
How Our Salt Lake City DUI Defense Attorneys Can Help
Know your rights at all times – never consent to give any statements to the police or provide samples of your bodily fluids without first consulting with our attorneys. The law does not require you to submit to a search of your personal belongings, including your car, field sobriety tests or breathalyzer.
An experienced defense lawyer for DUI in Utah can guide you through the court process and make sure that your legal rights are not violated. It may be possible to reduce your charges or the penalties you face or even have DUI charges dismissed altogether.
Gathering evidence is the most crucial component in battling a DUI case. Our legal team works with industry experts to gather materials relevant to your case, including maintenance records of any BAC detection equipment used, to determine if authorities used outdated or inefficient equipment during your traffic stop. If there’s an error, we’re going to find it. Call our Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys for help with your case.
Contact Our Salt Lake City DUI Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you were charged with a DUI, you may be facing serious legal penalties depending on your circumstances and driving history. Contact Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson to set up a free and private legal consultation. Darwin is ready to make holding center and jail visits and handles intoxicated driving charges throughout Utah. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 today.