Utah DUI Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Will I be able to get my Driving Under The Influence (DUI) case dismissed because I was not read my Miranda rights?
A: NO! But if you were interrogated after being placed in custody, your statements can not be used against you.
Q: What is the chance of a judge sentencing me to jail for a first DUI in Utah ?
A: There is a mandatory minimum of two (2) consecutive days or 48 hours community service. Some judges sentence first time DUI’s with blood alcohol levels over 0.180 to two (2) to three (3) days in jail. And more than a few courts such as Cottonwood Heights and South Jordan, sentence first time DUI’s to two (2) days in jail regardless of intoxication level or performance on standardized field sobriety tests. You should NEVER attempt to represent yourself if you have a high BAC (greater than 0.159).
Q: I had one alcohol offense when I was 18 and they suspended my license. What will happen if I have another conviction?
A: It could be automatically revoked for two years.
Q: How many hours of alcohol classes will I have to take?
A: Plan on at least 16 hours, Four (4) – Four (4) hour sessions in a week.
Q: What will happen if I do not successfully complete probation or the classes or public service ordered by the Court?
A: You will go to jail. The court has 178 days of jail suspended that they can come back and use during your year of probation.
Q: What if I just wait out the Year of probation and do nothing?
A: The court will issue a warrant for arrest which will suspend your driving license and will stay active until you return to court even years later.
Q: How long will a DUI stay on my record?
A: Forever. Even if you expunge the DUI after ten years any law enforcement personnel will be able to see it.
Q: How Can A Lawyer Help Me?
A: Three ways: First, they know the process and procedure which is not straightforward and so they stop you from getting in more trouble; second, they know the court and the prosecutor (at least I do!) and this can make a huge difference if you had a high BAC or accident because they will prepare you differently and have you do things ahead of time to ameliorate your situation; lastly, they will ensure that if there is an issue with your case it is exploited to your benefit and if not that your case closes properly with both the DLD and the court so you don’t have licensing issues later on (which are common).
Top 10 Most Common DUI Mistakes
1. Failing to request a DMV administration hearing within ten days PROPERLY (via email and the new method for discovery).
2. Assuming that if the breath / blood result is greater than .05, the case is lost. Learn about the system you are in before you make a judgment about the evidence. Most breath results are NOT accurate – they do NOT equal the blood BAC.
3. Playing ostrich/playing lawyer/pretending it will go away (especially if you have any other criminal history).
4. Failure to call a Utah DUI Attorney 435-714-0376 or become educated about the process for free. If your drain were plugged you’d call a plumber toothache a dentist, and if you are in legal trouble you should call a criminal defense lawyer.
5. Hiring the first lawyer who promises to keep you out of jail (if this is your first DUI you only have a tiny chance of doing time). Anyone who sends you a form “scare” letter in the mail telling you that there may be a warrant out for your arrest is telling you he can not get business any other way. No lawyer should “rush” you into “getting started.”
6. Failure to become educated about the long term dangers of a DUI, and thinking that if you can “get this behind you” everything will be fine (the real danger of this DUI is what it sets you up for in the future).
7. Failure to write a very detailed narrative of what happened to aid your attorney in analyzing the case. You know what happened, we know the law; together we can see if the proper procedure was actually followed, procedure is the holy grail.
8. Failure to evaluate the fourth Amendment implications of the stop (if the stop was illegal – had no underlying traffic infraction – the evidence can be suppressed and the case dismissed). About 35% of all stops have a fourth amendment component even though it may not be obvious to you.
9. Running in to plead guilty at arraignment because you want the court to think “better” of you for “taking responsibility” – about 2-3% of cases disappear or can not be filed due to evidence problems. The court doesn’t “think” anything since they do not know the facts of any case until plea. The judge doesn’t even know your case number until the clerk hands him your file; they aren’t sitting there wondering about whether or not you are now a responsible person. Remember: penalties are STATUTORY (controlled by law).
10. Believing that your case is special and that you deserve a deal because you’ve never done anything illegal before and are generally a good person – the prosecutor doesn’t care. At all. Not even a little bit. And you may be ruining it for your lawyer by muddying the waters and admitting guilt that they can then use against you. Never speak to an ADA in the hope of obtaining leniency – there were 100,000 people before you and they all deserved a deal, and the ADA doesn’t believe a word you say in any case. Prosecutors deal when they are threatened with losing a case or having evidence suppressed by a lawyer- since they know you are not a lawyer, they have no reason to fear your legal strength.
FAILURE TO GET EDUCATED ABOUT HOW POOR UTAH DUI INTOXILYZERS ARE AND HOW FIELD TESTS ARE BIASED
You Should Not Have Had Anything To Drink; You Should Not Have Performed Field Sobriety Tests; Do Not Make The Third Mistake – Do Not Believe That Because You Blew a Certain Number – That the Number Is Accurate – Because It Is Not! In January of this year I had a client on his second DUI facing ten days in jail, with a .198 BrAC (Breath)(this was an actual physical control case and he had not been driving) and we discovered that the troopers intoxilyzer certification, that has to be updated each year or so, had lapsed. The case was terrible factually, but this single discovery resulted in the case being reduced to an Impaired Driving w/ no jail whatsoever. The single biggest reason you should not immediately plead guilty is because you can not analyze your case.
STAYING CALM, GETTING EDUCATED
Generally those getting their first DUI are freaked out by the process; one minute they were driving without any problems and the next they were in handcuffs. This sudden emotional impact as it were, leads to a variety of mistakes that tend to compound the problem. For example, almost everyone fails to ask the officer whether or not the field tests performed on the side of the road are compulsory or optional (they are optional), and as a result, they end up giving damning information (even if they do well) that is later used to convict them. No one passes the Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) because they are designed to fail and they are subjectively graded – think about it, could you have passed them inside a gym, without knowing what or how they were grading you on?? Speaking with our office is FREE! Do not pass up an opportunity to have an experienced lawyer assess your case.
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE
What should have happened is as follows: following the stop the police will ask for identification, registration, and proof of insurance. The reason for the stop should be furnished to the driver. The cop will then ask if the driver has been drinking to which the driver should answer: “I would like a ticket for whatever you stopped me for and then I want to be on my way; if you ask me any questions I shall assume you are investigating some other matter and stand on my right to remain silent. Thus, you can either give me a ticket or arrest me right now, but I am not doing any field tests or blowing into any portable breath tester. What people do not realize is that they must confront the officer and force their hand because the sooner they are arrested the weaker the case is for the State. Think about it, what evidence of inebriation does the officer have at the time he asks about alcohol – none or little; in Utah, odor of alcohol alone is not sufficient to support probable cause to arrest, so if the officer arrests, the evidence including the breath sample will be suppressed.