Utah DUI Attorney
Despite the fact that major efforts have been made at both a national and state level to try to reduce the amount of drunk driving that occurs, DUIs, unfortunately, remains one of the most commonly charged crimes in the state of Utah. It is also a crime that is taken very seriously by local and state authorities including law enforcement and prosecutors. As such, being arrested for DUI can lead to some very serious consequences, including having your license suspended and spending time behind bars. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your rights in the immediate aftermath of your arrest, the most important of which is retaining skilled legal counsel as soon as possible.
Charges for a DUI can result in fines, a suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail time. The more alcohol in your system at the time of your arrest and the more DUIs on your driving record, the greater your penalties will be. The consequences of a DUI will haunt you for a very long time. Even if you get your license reinstated, you may be required to drive with an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our skilled Utah DUI attorneys have years of experience successfully defending clients throughout the state charged with driving under the influence. We will leave no stone unturned, working to make sure that your rights are respected, ensuring your side of the story is told, and working to get the charges downgraded or dismissed. Our one and only goal is to protect your future. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (801) 758-2287.
What Constitutes a DUI in Utah?
DUI is short for “driving under the influence.” Under Utah laws, it is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or greater. If you are under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system. Furthermore, DUI can also be charged if you are driving under the influence of illegal, unprescribed drugs. In a case where it is drugged rather than drunk driving that is at issue, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with any amount of drugs, even metabolites, in your system.
In some cases where you refuse to take the required Breathalyzer, blood, or urine tests or for some other reason the tests cannot be performed, you can still be charged with DUI based on the observations of the arresting officer and other witnesses and any other evidence indicating that you were driving under the influence, such as video footage of you driving erratically.
Call our Utah DUI defense lawyers for assistance with your charges. We can challenge the charges against you and work to have them dismissed or to have your penalties reduced.
How a DUI Arrest Typically Works in Utah
Usually, a police officer will initiate a DUI stop after seeing someone driving erratically or committing some sort of traffic violation. Sometimes, a DUI charge will result from an investigation surrounding an accident where it becomes clear that one or more of the drivers was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Other times, there may be a DUI checkpoint set up where all cars are stopped and drivers are questioned regarding their drinking or any other form of intoxication. This usually occurs after a big event like a concert or on a holiday where a lot of people go out to drink.
At any stop, the officer will make observations about whether the driver or the car smells of alcohol or drugs, whether the driver is slurring their words and any other signs that the person may have been drinking or consuming illegal drugs. If the officer believes that the driver may be under the influence, they may ask them to exit the vehicle and undergo a series of roadside sobriety tests, such as standing on one foot or reciting the alphabet backward.
You are not required to take these tests, but failure to take them may make the officer more suspicious and more likely to place you under arrest and take you back to the station for a Breathalyzer test. Our Utah DUI defense attorneys can help you fight your DUI charges.
If the officer believes they have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, they will transport you to the local police station for the booking process. You will have to comply with any Breathalyzer, blood, or urine tests that the officers request you to take. Refusing such a test is a separate crime in and of itself, with separate penalties including potential jail time.
Furthermore, as noted above, you can still be charged with a DUI even if you refuse the test based on the officer’s observations and other evidence, and, aside from constituting a separate crime, your refusal can also be used against you in court in your DUI case.
Getting a DUI in Utah Even Though You Are Not Driving
While it is not as common as being pulled over on the road, some defendants are arrested for DUIs even though they were not actually driving at the time of the arrest. The police do not necessarily have to witness you driving a vehicle while intoxicated to arrest you for a DUI. They may arrest you if they have reasons to believe that you recently drove a vehicle while intoxicated.
When people are arrested for DUIs without driving, they are often stopped in places like parking lots or on the side of the highway. Drivers sometimes reconsider their decision to drive and decide to pull over and “sleep it off.” However, your good choice to stop driving may not absolve you from a DUI.
To be charged with a DUI, a driver need only have actual physical control of a vehicle. Actual physical control is commonly demonstrated through driving the vehicle, but it can be shown in other ways. Details such as the location of your car keys, whether you were in the driver’s seat, whether the engine is still warm, or where you parked your car may be used to determine if you had control over the vehicle.
Actual physical control is determined by the totality of the circumstances, meaning all the details of your caser taken together must point to the likelihood that you were driving under the influence. Call our Utah DUI defense attorneys for assistance and advice.
Evidence of Intoxication that May be Used Against You in a Utah DUI Case
Before a police officer can pull you over, they need to observe some signs of intoxication. For example, if you are driving your vehicle, the police may stop you if they notice erratic driving, like swerving between lanes or driving too fast or too slow. However, not every case requires the police to observe you exhibiting signs of intoxication. In cases like DUI checkpoints, the police will stop all vehicles that come through the checkpoint.
Once you have been stopped by law enforcement, they must determine if your erratic driving was due to intoxication. While they speak with you, they will look for things like slurred speech and slow reflexes. If they notice anything suspicious, they may ask you to step out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are like small physical tasks that are very simple for most sober people to do, but difficult for intoxicated people. If you fail these tests, the police may have enough probable cause to arrest you. However, field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and you may refuse to do them.
Finally, the police will use evidence of your BAC. Your BAC is typically measured through a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer works by detecting the amount of alcohol on your breath and calculates your BAC. Breathalyzer testing after an arrest is mandatory and may not be refused without additional legal consequences. In some cases, if a breathalyzer cannot be used, the police may try to obtain blood or urine samples to test your BAC.
If you were stopped for a DUI, call our Utah DUI defense lawyers immediately. We can assist you in fighting your charges and restoring your good name.
Penalties for DUIs in Utah
Your driving history influences your penalties. A person with multiple DUIs in their past will be punished more harshly. Penalties may also be increased if you had a minor passenger in the vehicle while you were driving.
For a first-time offender, your DUI will be charged as a Class B misdemeanor. Such a misdemeanor may be punished by up to six months in jail. However, upon the first conviction for a DUI, the court may impose a jail term of at least 5 days. The court may also require you to undergo alcohol screening and assessments for placement in treatment programs or educational courses. You may also be ordered to pay a fine of no less than $700.
A second violation will also be charged as a Class B misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation, however, may be charged as a third-degree felony. For a subsequent conviction, the court may impose a jail term of at least 20 days. However, the maximum term for a Class B misdemeanor is 6 months, and the maximum for a third-degree felony is 5 years. You may also have to participate in alcohol treatment or education courses, and your fines will increase for a repeat offense.
Charges may fluctuate based on aggravating factors. For example, your Class B misdemeanor DUI will be upgraded to Class A if you had a passenger under the age of 16 in the car. Charges will also increase if you hurt anyone while driving drunk. Each injured person may constitute a separate charge, so your penalties will quickly rack up.
If you are facing your first or subsequent DUI charges, call our Utah DUI defense lawyers right away. We can help you through, no matter how serious or minor your charges may be.
Expunging DUIs from Your Record in Utah
Many criminal convictions can be expunged from your record, including DUIs. An expungement is like deleting any record of the conviction. The court will treat your conviction as if it never happened. You will also no longer have to report the conviction to potential employers or landlords.
A specific amount of time must have passed since you completed your sentence to get a conviction expunged. For most crimes, this is typically 3 to 5 years. DUIs, however, require 10 years to have passed before you can wipe them from your record.
Expunging your DUIs is important because they may be used against you if you are ever charged with a DUI in the future. Previous DUIs will make your charges and penalties for future DUIs worse.
Expungements are not always guaranteed, and a judge could refuse to expunge your DUIs. You are more likely to be successful if your case was not serious, nobody was hurt, and you can show you are very remorseful about your actions. Call our Utah DUI defense lawyers to talk about possibly expunging old DUI convictions.
How a Skilled Utah DUI Attorney Can Help with Your Case
After your arrest for DUI, you or a loved one should reach out to an experienced Utah DUI attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC as soon as possible. This is especially important because your initial appearance and bail hearing will occur quickly, usually no more than 72 hours after booking. Unless it is a weekend or holiday, the hearing will occur much sooner, sometimes in only a matter of hours. The sooner you reach out to us, the more time we will have to familiarize ourselves with your matter and be prepared to stand by your side at these important early proceedings.
At your bail hearing, the judge will decide whether you can be released and, if so, how much bail to set, based on the state guidelines as well as your attorney’s arguments about why you deserve to be released on little to no bail. At your initial appearance, the judge will read the charges against you and, if you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you will be arraigned and asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty.
In felony DUI cases, the arraignment will occur later, but in either case, our skilled DUI lawyers are likely to advise you to plead not guilty while we assess the strength of the case against you and try to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. For first offenders, this could include a pre-trial diversion program where your charges are dropped if you complete the program successfully. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, our skilled Utah DUI defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC are always ready and able to take your case to trial.
If Your Have Been Charged with DUI in Utah, Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
DUI charges can lead to serious penalties, including high fines, long jail sentences, and the loss of your driving privileges. In addition, DUI charges and the potential penalties you can face get more serious if you have been previously convicted of another DUI. As such, it is vital that you deal with any DUI charges right away by retaining battle-tested Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys like those at Overson Law, PLLC as soon after your arrest as possible. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2328.