Utah DUI Enforcement Target Everyday Drivers – Not Impaired Drivers
I’m going to tell you thing in this website that no other lawyer would ever tell you, and it’s 100% true. It’s long, but I guarantee that after you read this you will never think of DUI’s the same way again.
First, let’s start with how YOU viewed DUI’s before you were pulled over. Like almost everyone you thought police targeted drunk drivers, right? Well, that’s partly true – if there is a report of a guy bobbing and weaving all over the highway most of the time police will get them. But over 90% of ALL DUI’s nationwide (and that’s a whopping 1.5 million of them) begin with the smallest traffic infraction, things like signaling for two seconds, or a license plate light out that almost everyone at one time or another has experienced. The difference in Utah is that this stop is only made for one thing – to sniff the air from your car for alcohol or weed. Police, especially at night, are simply fishing – throwing back the ones that don’t have ANY alcohol on their breath and immediately pulling people out of the car that have had a single drink.
Why Utah Is Different: In all of the other states and in Utah police are trained in the following: drinking and driving is NOT illegal, so your job is to look for signs of impairment that are the hallmarks of a drunk driver, and separate the drunks from the people who are ok to drive. That sounds OK doesn’t it? You don’t want drunk drivers on the road either right? But in Utah, because of a combination of two things – time availability (the ability to make a large number of initial stops per shift) and Mormonism (there I said it), police in Utah pull people from the car as soon as they smell ANY alcohol – against their training (training says to evaluate BEFORE removing someone from their car because danger increases any time people are out in the open in traffic. Now, while I’m not suggesting that Mormonism is an evil unto itself, it does affect the tenor of any stop because non-drinkers believe that ANY amount of alcohol is not only a sin but a driving hazard, while in other states, because of a heavier case load (accidents, warrants, highway safety help) and the fact that officers only want to arrest obviously impaired drivers rather than anyone who might be a single thousandth above the limit (.05), in other states, the people who have had two drinks and are considered safe to drive by the officer, aren’t even removed from the car OR have a more lenient scoring of their field tests – if they don’t bungle them, most experienced officers will warn them and send them on their way. In other words, cops in america are all trained in the same NHTSA field tests; but in Utah, if you had a single sip of alcohol, you are going to be removed from your car and forced to do the SFST’s to prove you are good to drive, and no one seems to pass the Utah administered SFST’s.
The Tests Cops Use To Evaluate Drunk Driving Are Deficient: Now we need to, for the sake of thoroughness touch upon something quite central to this entire mess and that is the National Highway Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) and it is quite simple: the SFST’s have NEVER, EVER, EVER been tested on a control group of sober people. There have been tests at Universities where trained police officers watched a video of completely sober people perform the SFST’s and then were asked how many of those people they would arrest (and 75% of them answered better than 67% – meaning they would have arrested the sober people), but there has NEVER been a test on sober people to see what percentage of sober people could pass the SFST’s. Now that may surprise you. As an attorney I simply didn’t believe it when I was told 20 years ago, but it’s true. You never had to stand on one leg for thirty seconds on the side of a highway with traffic before you got your driver’s license; but if you had, there might be some relevance in having you perform the same test. No matter how conservative you might be – no one, and I mean literally not a person on either side of the aisle, believes that all people perform physical agility exercises, much less what are called “Divided Attention Tests (DAT),” equally (DAT’s give verbal and physical instructions at the same time with mixed messages that are believed to be confusing to impaired drivers but in truth are confusing to anyone that is even a bit nervous). The idea that a twenty one year old gymnast (who failed by the way according to the officer but looked picture perfect on the video tape) walks an imaginary line toe to heel for 18 steps the same as an elderly person with a hip replacement is absurd. And it is this absurdity that drives the beast that is called DUI Enforcement.
High BAC’s (greater than .140) Are The Exception Not The Rule: I want to be absolutely clear here so no ADA out there throws this back in my face. Real honest to goodness drunk people who have high BAC’s (above .160) and rarely cause horrible catastrophic accidents (15,000 highway deaths per year for the past 20 years) are an honest to goodness danger, but those numbers are so astoundingly low per driven mile, per driver, or whatever measurement you want to use, that they cannot justify – I would argue to anyone’s morals – arresting and processing 1.5 million people a year who were driving absolutely fine (except for a minor traffic violation) before they were stopped and were trying to OBEY the law by having one or two drinks at dinner. I mean, if we were actually reducing deaths caused by drunk and impaired driving you wouldn’t hear a word from me, but these have remained steady despite advances in automobile safety for the past twenty years.
NHTSA’s Advertising Campaigns Are Misleading: Secondly, NHTSA has been doing a disservice to the vast amount of the population with their confusing and frankly misleading advertising scheme. If you knew the TRUTH – that one single drink could make you blow over .05 – would you take that risk? For years NHTSA has played around with sayings like “Friends don’t let friends driver drunk” or “Buzzed driving is drunk driving,” instead of teaching that “our breath machines may be inaccurate so don’t chance even one drink because depending on time and a lot of other factors, you may blow over the legal limit with one drink.” These are misleading for the following reasons: first; breath machines don’t measure blood alcohol levels (on which all DUI laws are based), they measure BREATH alcohol levels which are NEVER, EVER the same thing. While it is true that for the majority (51%) of the populace that their breath alcohol level will have a relationship to their blood alcohol level that has an “acceptable” deviation of less than 15%, there are also hundreds of thousands of people who when they have a blood alcohol level of .05 will blow up to twice the legal limit (.160) and the same amount that will blow “down” to half the legal limit or .040 – or somewhere in between. Those that have blood tests are admittedly accurate, but you don’t get to choose the officer does, and they will never let you have a blood test if you are at or near the legal limit.
Why Wouldn’t You Take The Time To Talk With Me About Your DUI Case – It’s Free! I exclusively defend DUI cases all over middle and northern Utah including Salt Lake County, Davis County, Morgan, Wasatch County, Utah County and others. I have represented over a thousand DUI cases resulting in reduced charges and fines and even complete dismissal. Remember this: One DUI you can get through, but more than that will change your life as you know it. And once arrested you will face increased scrutiny, obviously, every time you are stopped for anything! Like most DUI’s.Your DUI likely started out with a simple traffic offense rather than an accident, Targeting out of control drivers is something we can all agree on, but targeting everyone stopped for any reason is out of control!
As an attorney, I solely defend DUI Utah cases because I believe DUI prosecutions in Utah are largely misplaced and target regular, law-abiding citizens who attempt to stay within the law by drinking responsibly. Say what you will about DUI’s – I certainly don’t recommend drinking and driving, but the vast majority of DUI’s according to our National Highway Administration, DO NOT result in catastrophic accidents or injury – only .00001% do (using NHTSA numbers), and thus trying to fix this small percentage of drivers who are actually impaired by ticketing people who are NOT impaired is a completely fruitless undertaking resulting in billions of wasted dollars. If in fact the government wants to stop drinking and driving let them mandate alcohol ignition interlocks for EVERY car sold in America and outlaw ANY level of alcohol in one’s system; then innocent people trying to obey the law would not be sucked into this vortex of imaginary efficiency.
Your future depends on experience and I have what it takes to inform you of your rights and the severity of your case. It costs nothing to become informed.
Salt Lake County – Alta Justice Court
Alta, UT 84092
Judge Clinton Balmforth – (801) 742-2407 Lever, Piper – (801) 742-2407
Salt Lake County – Bluffdale Justice Court
14175 South 1700 West
Bluffdale, UT 84065
Judge Scott Mickelsen – (801) 446-9219
Salt Lake County – Draper Justice Court
1020 E. Pioneer Road
Draper, UT 84020-9628
Judge Daniel F. Bertch – (801) 576-6544 Anderson, Stephanie – (801) 576-6544
Salt Lake County – Herriman City, Justice Court
13011 South Pioneer Street
Herriman, UT 84096
Judge Paul C. Farr – (801) 446-5323 Radzinski, Debra D. – (801) 446-5323
Salt Lake County – Holladay Justice Court
4580 South 2300 East
Holladay, UT 84117
Judge Augustus G. Chin – (801) 273-9731 Olsen, Kaylynn – (801) 273-9731
Salt Lake County – Midvale Justice Court
7505 S. Holden St
Midvale, UT 84047
Judge Ronald C. Wolthuis – (801) 255-4234
Salt Lake County – Murray City Justice Court
688 East Vine St.
Murray, UT 84107
Judge W. Paul Thompson – (801) 284-4280 Williams, Michael – (801) 284-4280
Salt Lake County – Riverton Justice Court
12830 South 1700 West
Riverton, UT 84065
Judge Gregory L. Bown – (801) 208-3131 Kay, Stephanie – (801) 208-3131
Salt Lake County – Salt Lake City Justice Court
333 S 200 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Judge John Baxter – (801) 535-6300
Judge L.G. Cutler – (801) 535-6300
Judge Sydney Magid – (801) 535-6300
Judge Catherine Roberts – (801) 535-6300
Judge Jeanne M. Robison – (801) 535-6300
Salt Lake County – Salt Lake County Justice Court
2001 S. State St. S4200 P.O. Box 144575
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4575
Presiding Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson – (385) 468-8200