Criminal Law-DUI/DWI

Things to know about Utah DUI DWI laws.

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1. If you have been drinking and are pulled over,
you are probably going to jail

In Utah there is a misguided belief that if you cooperate with everything the officer wants you to do that things will turn out for the best. This is not true. The officer is trying to collect evidence against you so that you can be convicted.

If you have been pulled over and have had any alcoholic beverage that night in Utah, assume you are going to jail because you likely are. Be polite (because, after all, the officer is just doing his or her job). Give the officer your name, license, registration, and proof of insurance and otherwise exercise your right to silence on any other question they ask you. When you get to jail, call an attorney.


2. You do not have to do the field sobriety tests

You are under no obligation to do a field sobriety test at any time. The police do not want you to know this. The officer will tell you to do a sobriety test and not give you the choice. The officer will threaten you with jail if you do not comply (see above). Why would you help the officer gather evidence that will be used to convict you?You are under no obligation to do a field sobriety test at any time. The police do not want you to know this. The officer will tell you to do a sobriety test and not give you the choice. The officer will threaten you with jail if you do not comply (see above). Why would you help the officer gather evidence that will be used to convict you?

Many people make the mistake of taking the sobriety test thinking that they can “prove” their way out of going to jail. Don’t try it. First, the test is not very easy to do completely sober. Second, there are many outside factors that can skew the results of the test (i.e., facing oncoming traffic, flashing lights, etc.) Finally, there is a high level of subjectivity in the officer’s interpretation of the “test” results. Do you really want to risk your freedom, time, and money on a test that is so heavily slanted against you?

Understand, when you refuse to do the DUI / DWI field sobriety tests, the officer will likely arrest you right then and there. Remember, though, that the arrest was likely to happen, anyway. Consider this a small victory because you have denied the prosecutor and officer of evidence they can use against you.


3. You do not have to do a breathalyzer test

There are 2 types of breath tests: A portable breath test (PBT) which is hand-held and the officer will have with him on the scene; and the Intoxilyzer, which will either be back at the station or in the back of the officer’s vehicle.

The PBT is another of the field sobriety tests. You do not have to take this test under any circumstance. There is no penalty in refusing to take it. They are inaccurate, and are only used to help confirm the results of the other field sobriety tests.

The second type of test is the Intoxilyzer, which is a large box with a mouthpiece unit you blow into. The decision whether to take this test is more complicated. If you refuse to take the Intoxilyzer test, your driver’s license can be suspended for two years on the first incident, and up to three years on any incident after that. If you refuse to blow into the Intoxilyzer, you will have to go to a hearing with the Driver’s License Division to retain your driving privilege. If you haven’t done any of the field sobriety tests and have not given an Intoxilyzer breath sample, however, your defense will be stronger and your ability to keep your license will be increased. Just understand, there are risks associated with refusing to take the Intoxilyzer test.


4. Remember, you are on camera

Everything that the officer says to you and every response that you make is being filmed and recorded. The officers know this and so should you. How you act, the way you speak, the motions you make, can all help or hurt you at a DUI trial. Many times people say and do things because they are understandingly frightened by the situation they are in. Remember nothing you can say is going to keep you out of jail and/or “get you off.” Give the officer your name and information, politely refuse to do all tests, and politely refuse to answer any additional questions.


5. DUI penalties are staggering

1. Talk to an attorney!

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to simply plead guilty to the DUI at the first opportunity. The consequences can be severe, not the least of which is the automatic suspension of your driving privilege. Every DUI case is different. With negotiation, DUI cases very often have the penalties reduced, at the very least. But without representation you will not be able to successfully defend your case. There are many nuances to the law and that is what we are trained to know.

2. Request a Driver License Division hearing

Once you have been arrested, you only have 10 days to request a hearing with the Driver’s License Division. These hearings are important, if you want to retain your driving privilege. If you fail to request that hearing within 10 days of your arrest, your license is automatically suspended and there is little that you can do to change that suspension, even if the DUI case is ultimately dismissed. If you visit with our office within the 10 day window, we can make that hearing request on your behalf.

3. Write down your recollection of events

As soon as you can, write down your account of what happened leading up to and including your arrest. Revisit your written account each time you remember some new detail. Details are important when putting together your defense. Having your narrative ready to present to an attorney will help to accurately evaluate your case.