WINNING THE DUI
WHY HIRE US
Many people that have been arrested for DUI believe that there is nothing you can do to fight the charges. Frankly, that notion is simply wrong.
The simple fact is that the DUI case is often won before you even get to trial. While there are numerous ways that an experienced DUI attorney can win your case, the following challenges, and variations thereof, are the most common avenues for success...
DUI Defense in Utah
Utah State Law
If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Utah, you should consider immediately retaining a defense lawyer to evaluate your case and inform you of your rights. In order to protect your legal rights when facing a DUI charge, hiring an attorney may allow you to not only avoid jail time but also prevent a lengthy driver’s license suspension. Even if you were over the legal limit of .08 BAC at the time of the arrest, an attorney may be able to challenge the constitutionality of the stop or arrest and get all of the legal charges against you dropped.
In addition to challenging the actual stop and arrest, our legal team will not only contest the admissibility of the evidence offered against you but also contest the mechanisms and procedures that the police used in collecting that evidence.
Being charged with a DUI is a very serious matter. The penalties associated with a DUI conviction can include jail time, fines, outpatient and in-patient treatment programs, and a lengthy driver’s license suspension. Also, in addition to the penalties that the court may impose, a guilty DUI conviction will result in you paying thousands of dollars more in high-risk insurance premiums than you are currently paying.
Driver’s License Defense
Protecting Your Driving Privileges
In order to protect your driving privileges, hiring an attorney within ten days of your arrest is crucial. In Utah, in order to keep your driving privileges, you must schedule an administrative hearing within ten days of your arrest with the Driver’s License Division (DLD). Failure to schedule hearing with the DLD within ten days will result in your license being suspended for a minimum of 120 days.
One of the main reasons to call an attorney at Saunders Law is that under Utah law, if you are found guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for up to three years. Here are the following statutory guidelines (these guidelines assume that there are no aggravating factors such as: BAC over .16; injuring a person; having a passenger under 16 years old in the vehicle; if you are over 21, having a passenger under 18 years old in the vehicle; or, Auto Homicide):
Misdemeanor DUI, Under 21
The law concerning Alcohol and Minors in Utah changed in July of 2011, below is the new law:
If you are between 19 to 21 years old, your license will be SUSPENDED until you are 21 or for ONE year, whichever is longer.
The court can reduce the suspension to six months if: you have no new violations; you complied with the terms of your probation; you get a sworn statement from your parents that there is no substance abuse; you complete screening, assessment, and treatment.
If you are under 19, your license will be SUSPENDED until you are 21.
The court can reduce the suspension to TWO years if: you have no new violations; you complied with the terms of your probation; you get a sworn statement from your parents that there is no substance abuse; you complete screening, assessment, and treatment.
Your license can be SUSPENDED for a 120 days.
Your license can be REVOKED for 2 years.
Your license can be REVOKED for 2 years
Refusal of Chemical Test
In Utah, you are assumed to have given implied consent to all chemical tests by virtue of being granted a driver’s license. Therefore, a refusal of a chemical test (breathalyzer, intoxilyzer, blood test, etc.) results in an automatic revocation of your driver’s license for a period greater than that of a DUI conviction.
Your license will be REVOKED for 18 months
Your license will be REVOKED for 36 months
Driver License Revocation Hearing
If you have been arrested for DUI, you, or your attorney, must request a Driver License DUI Hearing within 10 days of your arrest in order to prevent the suspension or revocation of your license. Once requested, the DLD will schedule an administrative hearing to be held no later than 29 days after the date of your arrest.
At the administrative hearing, the hearing officer must find that there were reasonable grounds (“Probable Cause”) for the officer to believe that you were not only operating (or, in actual physical control) the vehicle at the time of the arrest but that you were also doing so in violation of Utah’s DUI statute.
Since the DLD hearing is civil in nature, and not a criminal proceeding, the DLD hearing officer merely has to determine that the arresting officer had probable cause (not proof beyond a reasonable doubt) to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or a measurable about of a controlled substance in order to suspend or revoke your license.
In 2012, the DLD conducted 5,070 hearings. Out of the 5,070 hearings that the DLD conducted, only 789¹ of those hearing resulted in No Action being taken against the charged individual’s driver’s license. With Utah DLD’s high driver license suspension rates, immediately hiring a DUI Defense attorney after being arrested should be one of your top priorities if you want to count yourself among those 15% that were able to keep their driving privileges.
Additionally, hiring a DUI Defense attorney to represent you at both the DLD hearing and the criminal trial drastically improves your chances for success in both venues. Since the Prosecutor is not present at the DLD hearing, a DUI Defense attorney can extensively cross-examine the officer and discover important facts about the case that can help during the criminal trial. For instance, while cross-examining the officer at the DLD hearing, it is not uncommon for a defense attorney to uncover that the officer improperly preformed one of the field sobriety tests or improperly administered the intoxilyzer breath test. Once this evidence is uncovered, your DUI Defense attorney will be able to use to this evidence to get the field sobriety test results or the intoxilyzer breath test results suppressed (“thrown out”), thereby crippling the State’s case against you.
Requesting a DLD Hearing
If you are not planning on hiring an attorney, you can request a hearing from the DLD by filling out this form and faxing the complete form to the DUI Section at (801) 964-4499.
Avoiding Jail Time
With Utah’s high DUI conviction rates, immediately hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer after an arrest should be one of your top priorities, if you want to stay out of jail.
If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence for the first time, Utah law requires that the judge impose a jail sentence of not less than two days and not more than a 180 days, 12 months of probation, and a minimum fine of $1,420.00. At the judge’s discretion, he or she can sentence you to 48 hours or more of community service instead of jail.
In Utah, DUI offenses are classified either as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the type of offense and whether it is a repeat offense. Misdemeanor cases are handled in Justice Courts, which are sponsored by municipalities and counties. Felony cases and cases not referred to the Justice Courts are handled in state District Courts.
Here are the following statutory guidelines for DUI sentencing in Utah (Again, these guidelines assume that there are no aggravating factors such as: BAC over .16; injuring a person; having a passenger under 16 years old in the vehicle; if you are over 21, having a passenger under 18 years old in the vehicle; or, Auto Homicide):
IMPRISONMENT: The Judge must order ONE of the following Sentences: 1) A jail sentence of not less than 48 consecutive hours (2 days) and not more that 180 days; OR 2) Require compensatory-service work for not less than 48 hours; OR 3)Require home confinement through electronic monitoring.
Second Offense (within 10 years):
IMPRISONMENT: The Judge must order ONE of the following Sentences: 1) A jail sentence of not less than 240 consecutive hours (10 days) and not more that 180 days; OR 2) Require compensatory-service work for not less than 240 hours; OR 3) Require home confinement through electronic monitoring.
IMPRISONMENT: If you are convicted of a 3rd Degree Felony DUI,The Judge must order ONE of the following Sentences: 1) A prison term of up to 5 years; OR 2)A jail sentence of 1,500 hours (62.5 days) and MAY require an additional period of electronic home confinement.
DUI Reporting Laws
Avoiding Sanctions of Your Professional License - School Teachers, Pilots, Realtors, Doctors, Nurses, Etc.
If you are charged with a drug and alcohol offense, such as DUI, and hold a professional license, not only are you subject to the possibility of loosing your driving privileges but also may be subject to sanctions relating to your professional license. While sanctions range depending on the licensing body, it is not uncommon for a licensing body to suspend, de-certify, or revoke a professional license or certification based on an arrest for a drug and alcohol offense.
Here, we represent our clients not only in the criminal prosecution but also before the various licensing boards (Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing [DOPL], Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission [UPPAC], etc.) that are attempting to sanction our clients’ professional license. We have defended school teachers, pilots, nurses, realtors, and other professionals whose licenses were in jeopardy.
In addition to license sanctions, some professions require that you self-report any arrest for drug and alcohol offenses. If required, it is important that you self-report these convictions within the designated time limit.
Below, we have listed a few professions that require their licensees to self-report:
Public School Teachers: Reporting Requirements
Utah law requires that all individuals licensed as educators (public school teachers, charter school teachers, school board members, educational administrators, etc.) through the Utah State Office of Education to self-report any arrest where the charges are drug or alcohol related within 48 hours of the arrest to the educator’s district superintendent or charter school director (See Rule 277-516-3 of the Utah Admin. Code).
In other words, if you are a public school teacher and are arrested for DUI on a Friday night, then you must self-report that arrest on Monday. The period to self-report an arrest for a drug or alcohol offense is incredibly short and often does not provide you with enough time to consult a lawyer or your Utah Education Association (UEA) representative. Therefore, it is imperative that contact both a lawyer and your UEA representative immediately after a DUI arrest.
Once reported to the superintendent, the educator’s employer must review the school district’s policy and make a decision on whether the educator can continue to work. Therefore, until your employer makes a determination of whether the school district’s policy mandates your suspension or termination, you should continue to report for work.
Additionally, once you have reported the arrest to your district superintendent, the superintendent must report your arrest to the Utah State Office of Education within 48 hours.
Pilots: Reporting Requirements
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates and controls all pilot licenses within the United States. Under Federal Law, if you are convicted of any Federal or State drug offense or DUI, you must inform the FAA’s Security and Investigations Division, through the issuance of a notification letter, within 60 calendar days of the alcohol-related conviction or administrative action.
Pursuant to 14 CFR 61.15, the following actions are considered convictions (incomplete list):
- Utah’s Driving License Division (DLD) revoking, suspending, or cancelling your driver license for a drug or alcohol violation or a refusal to submit to a chemical test.
- A criminal conviction of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) or impaired driving.
Therefore, if the DLD takes administrative action against your license and then you are later convicted of DUI, you must submit two Notification Letters to the FAA. The first notification letter must be sent after the DLD takes administrative action against your license; and, the second notification letter must be sent after the criminal conviction is entered against you by the court.
If the pilot fails to notify the FAA within the designated 60 day period, the FAA may take the following action against the pilot’s license:
- Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued by the FAA for up to one year after the date of the motor vehicle action.
- Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued by the FAA.
As you probably noticed, the mandatory self-reporting requirements apply only to convictions, not arrests. However, even if you self-reported the conviction, you must still answer YES on question 18(v) on FAA form 8500-8 (the FAA’s medical history and physical examination form). Question 18(v) asks if the airman has a history of arrests, convictions, or administrative actions involving driving while intoxicated by, or while under the influence of, alcohol or a drug.
When Form 8500-8 is processed by the FAA and there is a report of a DUI on the application, the file is matched against the 61.15 security database. If the database shows that the FAA Security Division was not notified within the 60-day time period, the FAA will take action against all of the pilot’s certificates.
Further, if the chemical test shows that your blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 percent or above, the Aviation Medical Examiner must defer issuance of the medical certificate and you will be asked to provide a substance abuse evaluation. If the results of the substance abuse evaluation show that you do not have a substance abuse problem, the FAA will clear you and issue the medical certificate. If the results of the evaluation show other problems, the FAA may require additional evaluations in order to determine your eligibility for certification.