Driving under the influence (DUI) is an incredibly serious and messy situation. At first, the charges seem relatively minor. The penalties usually involve little to no jail time. However, the fallout from DUI charges can complicate multiple aspects of your life. Going to work or school or simply running daily errands becomes impossible without a driver’s license. If you live in an area without access to public transportation, you might be out of luck.
In Utah, if you have been arrested for a DUI, then the procedural clock is already running on your ability to protect your rights. To avoid a license suspension of at least 120 days, you must submit a request for a DMV license hearing within 10 days of your arrest. If you fail to make this request and are under the age of 21 or a repeat DUI offender, the suspension will be longer.
The dedicated attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can help you stop the automatic suspension of your license and provide steadfast representation in the criminal portion of the proceedings. Our South Jordan DUI defense lawyers can meet with you in a free legal consultation. Call our offices at (801) 758-2287.
Under What Circumstances Can I be Charged with DUI in South Jordan?
In Utah, drivers 21 and over are guilty of a per se DUI if their BAC is .05 or greater at the time the test is administered or at the time of operation of the vehicle. Additionally, the law defines a DUI as being intoxicated by any drugs, alcohol, or both to the extent that the driver cannot safely operate their vehicle. That means you can be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is less than .05 if you have any drugs or alcohol in your system and a law enforcement officer believes that you are incapable of driving safely.
While it is not unheard of for unscrupulous officers to manipulate a Breathalyzer to indicate a reading of .08 or greater, the second provision is the more troubling. For instance, the term “any drug” means that DUI convictions are not just limited to illegal street drugs. If you have a bad reaction to an allergy medication prescribed by a doctor, you could face the same harsh DUI consequences. Further, even those who drink responsibly and only drive while under the legal limit can be swept up in the DUI net if an officer perceives unsafe driving. Our South Jordan DUI defense attorneys fight to ensure that honest, hard-working Utahans are not swept up in this extremely broad and overly inclusive law.
Unlike some states, Utah requires DUI proceedings both in the criminal court system and in the Driver License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety. You will first be notified of the pending charges against you at your arraignment. Following the reading of the charges, you will be asked how you plead: guilty or not guilty. If a guilty plea is entered, you will then be sentenced at a later sentencing hearing. If a not guilty plea is entered, a pretrial conference will be scheduled. At this conference, your lawyer can move for a trial by jury, request an evidentiary hearing to potentially suppress evidence, or even negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor.
What Penalties Can Be Imposed on a South Jordan DUI Offender?
First-time offenders generally face a minimum $700 fine and a minimum of 48 hours in jail. Those convicted for a second or DUI offense are required by Utah law to install and utilize an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for eighteen months. However, even first-time offenders can be required to install one by the Driver License Division. For second and third offenses, the penalties only become harsher. A second offense carries a minimum of 240 hours in jail, a minimum fine of $800 and a 2-year license suspension. Finally, a third offense is a felony and requires a minimum of 1,500 hours in jail.
Further, your refusal to submit to a chemical test can be punished. It can result in a license suspension under Utah’s implied consent law. Utah’s implied consent law can be found under Utah Code § 41-6a-520 and states that simply by driving on the road, you are deemed to have given consent to chemical testing, including tests of breath, blood, and urine.
If you refuse to submit to chemical testing for a DUI, the police will not force you to comply. However, you can be criminally charged and face penalties in addition to those for the DUI. Ordinarily, refusal to submit to testing is a Class B misdemeanor. However, your charges will be upgraded to third-degree felonies for refusal to submit to testing if you have two or more prior DUI convictions or a prior automobile homicide conviction.
Driver’s License Revocation Hearing for a South Jordan DUI
After a DUI, your license will be suspended. This suspension is not a criminal penalty but a civil one. Drivers charged with DUIs are entitled to a revocation hearing to determine if their license should indeed be revoked. However, many drivers do not take advantage of the opportunity for this hearing. Many people are unaware there is a hearing at all. Those that are aware often have trouble requesting the hearing with the strict 10-day deadline. Failure to request a hearing means your license will automatically be suspended.
If you request a hearing, it will be held in the county where your DUI occurred or an adjacent county. This is important to know if you were stopped for a DUI in a part of the state where you do not live. Hearings are conducted by the Driver License Division of the DMV.
The driver’s license revocation hearing is separate from your criminal DUI trial. As such, it is possible to fight the revocation and succeed while also being found guilty of the DUI. It is important to speak with an attorney immediately following a DUI. Our Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyers can help you with the criminal aspects of your case as well as with your driver’s license revocation.
DUI Checkpoints in South Jordan
While many drivers are surprised or caught off guard when they are stopped by law enforcement, some DUIs occur at pre-planned checkpoints. A DUI checkpoint is a particular location along a road or highway where the police stop drivers as they pass. Checkpoints are different than ordinary stops because the police do not need to have any articulable suspicion to stop a driver at a checkpoint. Simply driving through the checkpoint is enough to warrant being stopped.
While anyone can be stopped at a checkpoint, not everyone is. Stopping every driver who passes through a DUI checkpoint would cause serious traffic jams and create driving hazards. Instead, the police follow pre-determined patterns. For example, they might stop every third driver at a checkpoint. However, they must only stop every third driver. They cannot stop anyone for arbitrary reasons, such as the driver’s race or ethnicity. If you were stopped for an unlawful reason, our South Jordan DUI defense attorneys can help you.
Checkpoints must also follow very specific procedures and protocols. Normally, checkpoints cannot be a surprise. When the police department sets up a checkpoint, they must make publicly known the date, time, and location of the checkpoint in advance. Drivers are allowed to plan a route that circumvents the checkpoint, but they may not exit once they are in the checkpoint. Because drivers are stopped with no actual probable cause or reasonable suspicion, stops are short and cursory. The police tend to ask very basic questions, like your name and address, while looking for tell-tale signs of intoxication. Drivers who are not intoxicated usually are allowed to pass with little trouble.
Defenses to DUI Charges in South Jordan
An arrest for a DUI is just like any other arrest because it requires probable cause. However, DUI arrests are also unique because, depending on the nature of your DUI stop, the police must adhere to specific rules and protocols. If these protocols are disregarded or fulfilled incorrectly, your arrest and any evidence may be invalidated.
At a DUI checkpoint, if you are stopped for an arbitrary or unlawful reason, the result of your stop, including any evidence, can be suppressed. Even if your stop does not violate any rules, if the police broke protocol by failing to inform the public of the checkpoint, you may still have grounds to fight your DUI.
In most stops, drivers will be asked to submit to chemical testing. The police rely on testing equipment like breathalyzers to provide accurate measurements of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A malfunctioning or improperly maintained testing device might give us grounds to dispute your BAC and DUI charges.
Additionally, the police must warn drivers about the consequences of failing to submit to chemical testing. All drivers are required to undergo testing, and there are legal consequences for refusal. Before charging someone with refusal, the police must first warn the driver of the charges for refusal. If you refused to submit to testing but were not warned of the penalties, Our South Jordan DUI defense lawyers can fight those penalties.
Contact Our South Jordan DUI Defense Attorneys
Being charged with a DUI can hinder your ability to get to work and provide for your family. The respected and tenacious South Jordan DUI defense lawyers of Overson Law, PLLC will stand up for you and protect your license and freedom. To schedule your free DUI consultation, call us at (801) 758-2287.