Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Salt Lake City can be overwhelming. Getting placed in handcuffs and taken to jail is not a pleasant experience for anybody. If you or somebody you care about has been arrested and is facing DUI charges, seek assistance from the Jardine Law Offices P.C. as soon as possible. Our Salt Lake City DUI attorneys have the resources and legal expertise necessary to conduct a complete investigation into your case and formulate a solid defense on your behalf. Do not rest your fate in the hands of an overworked public defender – call us today.
If you or a loved one are facing a DUI, there are some important steps to take right away. First of all you need to know that there are 2 different entities that can have a dramatic effect upon your future. Those 2 entities are 1) the criminal justice system—the Court and 2) the Driver’s License Division (DLD)—the agency in charge of issuing your driver’s license. The Court has the power to punish you through fines, jail time, and other restrictions. The DLD is the agency that will decide if you can drive or not. Which of these punishments is worse? Going to jail or not being able to drive? For many people the loss of a driver’s license is by far the more significant punishment.
Imagine not being able to legally drive for 120 days. That is four months of not driving.
You get the picture. So the first step in a DUI case is to preserve the driver’s license. In Utah, you only have 10 days from the date of the citation to request an administrative hearing with the DLD. If you fail to do so, you will automatically lose your license for at least 120 days! The request for the hearing must be done in writing and must be received by the DLD within those 10 days!
This can be confusing because on the citation that you receive it typically will state you must appear in “Not less than (5) nor more than (14) days after the issuance of this citation. IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR, THE COURT MAY ISSUE A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST.”
Most people don’t appreciate the difference between “the Court” and the DLD. They believe that if they have contacted the Court, they have done everything they need to. This is 100% false.
So please, protect your rights and either 1) affirmatively make your DLD request in writing using this form or 2) hire an attorney to make that request for you. We make these requests regularly for our clients and know how and where to make them.
Once you have taken steps to protect your license, the next step is to protect yourself from criminal liability.
This language is also confusing to most people. Essentially, you have a 9-day window to contact the court or face a possible warrant for your arrest. The citation says that you must “appear”, but most courts simply want to schedule a hearing for you in that time period. This can be done by calling the appropriate court on the phone. The Court’s location and phone number will appear in the upper left-hand corner of your citation. Again, once you hire an attorney, your attorney should take care of this by contacting the Court on your behalf. This is a service that we always provide to our clients.
Now that both aspects of the DUI have been addressed, you can now begin to prepare your defenses for each of them. Interestingly, while the DLD and the Courts operate under different rules, and have different consequences, actions taken in either venue may affect the outcome in the other venue. That is precisely why it is so important to have an experienced Salt Lake City DUI attorney to assist you in both the DLD hearing and the Court hearing.
Keep in mind that at the DLD hearing, the arresting officer will be testifying under oath. We have noticed that police officers are often less prepared at the DLD hearing than they are at Court. Consequently, it gives us a real opportunity to elicit favorable testimony that can be used later at Court.
The first question that needs to be answered is “why were you stopped?” Were you speeding, did you fail to signal, were you swerving, did you run a red light? There are hundreds of valid reasons why a police officer could stop you, and there are also some invalid reasons to stop you. If the officer alleges you violated a traffic law, he has to be specific, and he has to be telling the truth.
All too often we see officers that are literally parked outside of the bar waiting for cars to leave the parking lot. These officers will then look for any potential violation, and the moment they see one, they will turn on their overhead lights and pull you over. Sadly, we have seen cases where officers literally make up a reason to stop you. For instance, they say that you didn’t stop before entering the roadway, or that your car crossed the fog line, or sometimes they say there is an equipment violation. If an officer is alleging you did something wrong, and you know you didn’t, that’s when you really need an attorney to help you. We have gotten numerous DUI cases dismissed for these reasons. You can read about one of the more famous cases we handled by clicking here.
Exploring the circumstances surrounding the stop is often overlooked. Sometimes the person feels that because they knew they were over-the-limit that it’s not worth the time or energy to follow the investigation step by step. We have found that being thorough from start to finish is a recipe for success.
The legal standard for making a stop is that an officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime or traffic infraction was committed in his presence. Basically that means that the officer must have personally observed some sort of traffic infraction in order to legally stop you. If we can negate the reasonable suspicion, the case will be dismissed.
Once you have been stopped for a legal reason, the police officer will then begin his DUI investigation. Usually, a police officer will try to get close enough to smell your breath. The officer will then often ask “where are you going”, or if you have “drank any alcohol”. If the smell of alcohol is detected or if you admit to drinking any amount of alcohol that will justify further investigation. Sometimes an officer will see an open container or drugs in your car. That will also merit further investigation. The officer’s goal now is to develop “probable cause” to arrest you.
If the officer has developed reasonable suspicion of DUI, you will be asked to get out of your car to complete field sobriety tests. You will be told that the purpose of these test is to see if you are safe to drive. In reality, the tests are designed to prove you are intoxicated. The standard battery of tests, as developed by NHTSA, include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test. Each of these tests involves going through a series of movements with your body after having received very little instruction. Your performance on the tests will determine whether you will be arrested for DUI or not. While it is true that Alcohol or drugs will affect your ability to perform these tests—the real truth is that many people cannot pass the tests even when they are sober.
An experienced attorney can re-evaluate your results from these tests, assuming there is good body cam footage. We often see that local law enforcement have little experience in administering the tests correctly. Failure to administer the tests correctly can result in the case being dismissed, but only if you point out to the judge where the mistakes were made. Again, this is where the value of an experienced attorney comes into play. An experienced DUI attorney will know these tests better than the officer that administered them. He will be able to expose the officer’s errors and bring them to the attention of the judge.
While everything is happening, the police officer will be taking notes. He will be evaluating your appearance. Are your eyes bloodshot? Is your face flush? Do you slur your words? Do you take a long time to answer his questions? Do you answer those questions correctly? Do you remember what day it is? Everything that happens is part of the investigation.
Eventually you will be asked to submit to a chemical test. The officer will ask you to blow into an intoxilyzer machine or perhaps submit to a blood or urine test. Your failure to submit to this test could cost you your driver’s license for 18 months or more due to Utah’s Implied Consent law. And if you refuse the test, the officer will likely be able to get a warrant to draw your blood without your permission. Almost always submitting to the test is your best choice. If the test shows that your BAC is 0.05% or higher, you will be arrested for DUI in the State of Utah.
The penalty system in Utah for DUI’s depends on a number of factors including: driver’s age, history of DUI’s, whether there were children in the car, whether there was an accident, whether someone was injured or not. You can read about all the specifics of DUI penalties in Utah law by clicking here. But generally speaking this is what you are looking at:
|1st Offense||2nd Offense in 10 years||3rd Offense in 10 years|
|Minimum Jail Term||2 days Jail or 48 hours community service||10 days Jail OR 5 days jail plus 30 days home confinement||0 to 5 years prison OR 62.5 day jail|
|Maximum Jail Term||180 Days Jail||364 Days Jail||5 Years Prison|
|Fine||$1,380 Minimum||$1570 Minimum||$2,900 Minimum|
|Classes||Evaluation and Treatment||Evaluation and Treatment||Evaluation and Treatment|
|Supervised Probation||At judge’s discretion||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Ignition Interlock||Not usually required||Generally Mandatory||Generally Mandatory|
|Class of Crime||Class B Misdemeanor||Class A Misdemeanor||3rd degree Felony|
To have your specific case evaluated, it is best to speak with an experienced DUI attorney. At Jardine Law Offices P.C. we will thoroughly review your case and identify the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. We will then determine whether you are better off fighting the case or seeking a plea bargain. We will be beside you every step of the way. We are licensed to help in the entire State of Utah. Call or text us today and let us use our extensive knowledge to your benefit.