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Utah Criminal Defense Questions and Answers

The following questions and answers are designed to address your basic concerns about charges that may be pending, the general criminal process in Utah, and the legal options available to defend against criminal charges in Utah and South Jordan. 

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Do I have to tell my employer about my DUI arrest in Utah?

Unless you are legally required to inform your employer upon any infraction of the law, you are not required to report it. Remember, a DUI charge is not a conviction. With the help of an aggressive and experienced Utah DUI attorney, you may avoid conviction or better yet, beat the DUI charge completely. Ultimately, it may be better to wait for the outcome of your DUI case to avoid putting strain on your employee/employer relationship. Contact Branson K. West, Utah’s top DUI attorney, to schedule your first hearing for free and to discuss your case with no obligation.

Will a DUI in Utah Trigger Jail Time?

When people get pulled over for a DUI in Utah, one of their main concerns is whether they will have to serve additional jail time beyond the time served after a DUI arrest in Utah. The answer depends on the circumstances, prior offenses, plus more. The most important thing to remember is DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY TO YOUR UTAH DUI CHARGE! It is crucial that you fight your Utah DUI aggressively with a DUI attorney in Utah who has the knowledge, experience, and compassion for your Utah DUI charge and situation. Call 801-285-5550 immediately for a free Utah DUI case review and protect your rights and freedom.

What is the minimum treatment recommendation for a DUI in Utah?

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and number of offenses, you may be ordered to attend a driver’s educational series program and/or undergo alcohol treatment which can run anywhere from 4 to 50 hours. An experienced DUI attorney can help you negotiate the best possible outcome for your DUI case in Utah. Contact Branson West Law Firm to learn more about Utah DUI penalties or to schedule a free DUI case review.

If I'm charged with a DUI, will I be required to install an ignition interlock device in my car?

If you are convicted of a Utah DUI, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. The amount of time you are required to keep the ignition interlock device varies depending on your age, number of DUI offense and any violations related to the device.

What rights do I have at the time of arrest in Utah?

The Miranda rights for each citizen and non citizen are guaranteed by the United States Constitution. They are not required to be issued by police at the time of arrest. If this happens, your attorney may ask that any statements made to the police not be used against you in a Utah Court.

These rights include:

  1. the right to remain silent
  2. the right to a lawyer present while you are questioned
  3. the right to an appointed lawyer if you cannot afford one.

An arrest can be frightening and stressful. Don’t hesitate to call 801-285-5550 for a free and confidential consultation or to get all your questions about your rights answered.

Will I lose my license if I'm charged with a DUI in Utah?

Typically, your license is confiscated when there is a DUI arrest. A temporary license is provided that will expire within 30 days. Your license will automatically be suspended if you do not request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your charge. Utah does not offer restricted licenses that allows you to drive between home and work. The best way to protect your license is to hire an experienced defense lawyer who specializes in Utah DUI defense. Contact my DUI defense firm for a free case evaluation and to get your DMV hearing scheduled for free, with no obligations.

Are parents responsible for their children's criminal behavior?

Although you may feel responsible for your child’s actions, you are not legally liable for their criminal behavior unless you participated or contributed to the child’s delinquent behavior. You may be responsible for monetary compensation and transporting your child to their appointments. In addition, you may be ordered to attend hearings, counseling, and parenting programs. Unfortunately, parents often face civil (non-criminal) liability for their child’s actions. Contact me for more information or for a free juvenile defense case evaluation.

I was arrested for a DUI. If a police officer says it then it has to be true...right?

Just because they said you did something, doesn’t make it true! In some cases, cops make honest mistakes and in other cases, they let their emotions get the best of them. Either way, this is a great reason for a DUI defense trial in Utah. Contrary to popular belief, the jury often disagrees with police officers. In addition, DUI cases do not rest on hard science. If you are arrested for a DUI, do not plead guilty. Assert your rights and fight for the truth at your trial. Call 801-852-5550 for a free case evaluation. I will also schedule your DMV administrative hearing for free, with no obligation.

I got a DUI, what do I do?

If you are facing a Utah DUI charge, it is understandable you are wondering what to do next. Hiring a good DUI lawyer IMMEDIATELY is the key to winning a DUI, reducing your charges, and keeping your license. The best way to understand your rights, and to protect them, is to consult with an experienced lawyer that specializes in drunk driving defense law. As an experienced Utah DUI Lawyer, I understand that a DUI conviction can have life-altering consequences. I have tried thousands of cases all over SLC, the Wasatch Front and Southern Utah. I know Utah’s judges and prosecutors, and as a result, there is no better ally for you when you are facing DUI charges. Call (801) 285-5550 now for a free DUI defense consultation and to learn more about what to do when you are facing Utah DUI charges.

My wife/girlfriend does not want to testify. Why won't they drop my criminal case?

Even if your significant other does not testify, there can still be a case against you. If they refuse to testify, they become unavailable witnesses, but their previous statements can still be used against you. If they filled out a report on the date of your arrest, that report can be entered against you, and may be worse than if they testified at your criminal trial.

The victim doesn't want to press charges. Why won't the court dismiss my case?

Unfortunately, the victim does not represent the government or Utah Courts. Although they are required to consider the victim's circumstances and wishes, the prosecutors ultimately represent the people of Utah and the respective cities--not the victim. They are not paid by, nor do they represent the victim, or the police, for that matter. Even if the victim, or any other involved individual wanted the prosecutor to drop a case, the decision to do so still belongs to the prosecutors.

Won't the prosecutor dismiss my case if I show that I'm a good person? I have character witnesses!

Unfortunately, providing character whitnesses won't convince a prosecuter to drop your criminal or DUI charges. Most people can find someone to vouch for them if it comes down to it. Whether or not you are a good person is not the question. You may be a valuable contributor to society, but that ultimately will not matter to the prosecutor. Their job is to evaluate the evidence and get a conviction where possible. Save your breath and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney!

The cops lied! How can they do that?

This is something I hear all too often. Sometimes well-meaning cops make mistakes and sometimes they let their emotions get the best of them. Either way, this is a great reason for a criminal defense trial in Utah. Just because they said you did something, doesn't make it true! Assert your rights and fight for the truth at your trial! You would be surprised how often a jury won't believe a policeman. Do they face consequences for lying? Not unless you fight them. Make them come to court and defend their lies. You have a right to testify, if you choose, and your word is just as valuable as theirs!

The charges against me are not fair! Why can't I be released?

Unfortunately, many people arrested feel they have been arrested unjustly. That's the reason a trial in Court is required. Under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, that right is guaranteed to you. However, under the 8th Amendment, the government can hold you pending the outcome of a trial unless you post a "reasonable bail". Once bail is set, and you are able to post bail, you can be released.

How long can a person be held in jail without charges being filed?

Under Utah law a person can be held 72 hours without charges being filed. However, when the 72 hours begin and end is dependent on the booking time, when they were actually entered into the system, etc.  Your 72 hours could be a bit more than 72 hours, or, if you’re lucky, they could be less.

What is better for my criminal defense, a jury trial or a bench trial?

I would ALWAYS recommend a jury trial for your criminal defense in Utah. Our legal system revolves around the genius of the jury system. These are your peers. People from every walk of life, who are asked to come in and make the best evaluation possible. Often their fresh perspectives will give you your best chance to win. Additionally, I always trust the collective mind of many over the subjective mind of a single individual, no matter how smart or well-trained. Lastly, a prosecutor argues to the same judge day-in and day-out and will know what a judge needs to hear to convict you. If the prosecutor has to argue to a jury, their job will be significantly more difficult and fair, since they won't already know the people on the jury.

Why can't I have a jury for my criminal defense trial?

A jury trial is only guaranteed when jail is an option. Under Utah State law, this would only be the case if you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime. If you were charged with an infraction, that is not an offense that is punishable with jail time. As long as you are charged with a qualifying offense, the only other requirement is that you request a jury trial in writing from the court.

What is a "preliminary hearing" for Utah Courts?

A preliminary hearing is right for people who have been charged with class A misdemeanors, or any degree of felony in Utah. A preliminary hearing is like a mini trial. Witnesses are called and asked to testify and evidence is presented. At the end of the hearing, a judge is asked to determine if there is "probable cause" that a crime was committed and if it was probably committed by the individual accused.

Will going to AA (alcoholics anonymous) meetings help me with my DUI defense?

Going to AA (alcoholics anonymous) will not usually help your criminal DUI defense. Most courts do not view AA meetings as medical treatment. Although you may feel they benefit you, the court will not look at it as altering your position in any way. A better way to improve your situation is to seek a state-licensed substance abuse evaluator and get an evaluation. If they suggest treatment or classes, do those as well whether or not you go to AA. Both a judge and a prosecutor will be more impressed by completion of counseling than attendance at AA meetings.

Will I go to jail for a Utah DUI offense?

Not usually on your first DUI offense. Typically, your first DUI offense calls for 48 hours of community service in lieu of jail. A good DUI defense attorney can usually arrange this for you. On a second DUI offense, the law requires 10 days in jail. The Utah courts are split about which DUI offense requires jail time served and which will allow you to serve the 10 days by way of community service or ankle monitor. Contact our Utah DUI Defense office to find out specific court requirements. If it is a third DUI offense, the law requires a minimum of 62.5 days in jail, and they VERY seldom offer ankle monitors in place of jail.

What is the "implied consent" law in Utah?

Under Utah law, when you receive a driver's license you "impliedly" give your consent to give a breath, blood, or urine sample if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect you of violating Utah DUI laws. You can choose not to give a sample, but the consequence is harsh. On a first offense DUI, if you blow into the machine and your license is suspended, it will be taken for 120 days. If you refuse a breath test, however, your license will be revoked for 18 months!

I asked for a lawyer before blowing in the alcohol breathalizer machine and they told me I didn't have that right. Is that true?

In Utah, under the implied consent law, it is true.  The law considers the alcohol breath test administrative in nature and therefore has determined that you do not have a right to have/consult an attorney prior to blowing into a breath test machine.

Should I come to court dressed up?

A clean and well dressed appearance is typically better. However, dressing in a full suit is not necessary, even for your criminal or DUI trial

The cop took my license. Can I still drive?

Yes. You can typically drive for the first 30 days after you are arrested for DUI or other offenses in Utah. Look at the citation. Near the bottom there will be a box saying "This is VALID…as a temporary license or temporary driving privilege card for up to thirty (30) days from the date of this notice."  As long as that box is checked, you can still drive if you have the citation with you.

I've been arrested for a DUI. What comes next?

First, you MUST request a driver’s license hearing within 10 calendar days or you will lose your license. I provide that service for free. Just call my office at (801) 285-5550. If you get that hearing requested on time, you will have a driver's license hearing within the next 30 days. You will receive a letter in the mail, notifying you of your hearing date. Second, you must contact the court regarding your Utah DUI case within 5-14 days. If you fail to do so, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. 

Next, you'll have an arraignment in court where you will enter your plea. You should always say "not guilty". After arraignment, you will have a pre-trial conference. This is a hearing where the attorneys get together and discuss the case. Offers are made and the attorneys will try to resolve your case. Then, you may have an evidentiary or motion hearing. This is a hearing where evidence or arguments are presented to a judge to determine what is admissible in your case. Finally, a trial will be scheduled where you present your case to a jury for a guilty or non-guilty verdict. In most cases, DUI cases can take 6-12 months to go to trail. Although a DUI case process can be lengthy and frustrating, being patient usually produces better case results. 

Why would I plead "not guilty" if I am guilty?

Pleading "not guilty' at arraignment does not mean you didn't do it. It does not make you dishonest. It does not mean you are not accepting responsibility. It simply means that at this point in time you are still considering your options. The legal process continues until you say guilty or are found guilty or not guilty by a jury. Don't throw away your rights by pleading guilty at your arraignment! There may be defenses available. Also, you may be entitled to lesser punishment. But, you'll never know if you just plead guilty.

Will a lawyer make any difference in my criminal defense or DUI case?

Yes! I have seen many instances where similarly situated individuals got very different offers or very different sentences from judges. What makes the difference? Having a good Utah criminal defense attorney.

What if I blew a .082 on my breath alcohol test?  Am I just guilty?

Not necessarily. The Intoxilyzer 8000 is only tested to within +/- .005 g/210L of air. This means that it would be within its acceptable margin of error for you to be at a .077 and still register a .082. That's the difference between innocence and guilt, and juries understand it! This is a DUI case that you should fight!

I threw up before I blew into the breath test machine. Does that matter?

Yes! A cop is required to follow what is known as the Baker rule in Utah. This means that for at least 15 minutes before you blow into the alcohol breath test machine, the cop must ensure that your mouth is free and clear, that nothing goes in or out of it, and that you remain in their presence the entire time. If those rules are not followed, your test might not be valid and it could be excluded in your Utah DUI case.

What if the cop lied in the report?

Take your case to trial! Many of Utah’s officers now have dash cameras in their cars. If we act quickly, we can often use this footage to prove that your version of the facts is true. This may result in an outright dismissal of your Utah criminal case or extremely reduced charges!

I passed the field sobriety tests. Can the cop still arrest me?

Maybe. It depends on what other evidence the cop may have. When a cop pulls you over, they have to have “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been committed. When a cop arrests you, the level of evidence must be higher. The standard is called “probable cause.” If you passed the field sobriety tests, a cop would be required to look at the totality of the evidence and determine whether or not there was probable cause that you committed a DUI. For example, if you were in an accident, smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot, glassy eyes, slurred speech, but somehow passed the field sobriety tests, you may still have been legally arrested. However, if you were pulled over for speeding (not necessarily indicative of DUI), your speech was fine, you had no balance issues, and then passed the field sobriety tests, your rights were likely violated. Your case should be dismissed!  

I didn't give a breath or blood sample. Doesn't that mean they don't have any evidence?

No. Under Utah law, a prosecutor can prove DUI in one of three ways: (1) by showing a breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 grams/100 mL at the time of operation of the vehicle, OR (2) by showing a BAC of .08 grams/100 mL at a subsequent test, OR (3) by showing that you were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some combination of the two, to a degree that rendered you incapable of safely operating the vehicle. If the prosecutor doesn’t have a BAC, they will likely try to prove that you were incapable of safely operating the vehicle by showing that you had a poor driving pattern, bad field sobriety tests, or other physical characteristics indicative of alcohol impairment. However, this, to me, is still a GREAT case! Anytime there is no breath or blood test, a jury will have a hard time finding you guilty.

They never read me my rights. Shouldn't that cause my case to be thrown out?

No. Miranda rights are typically read on TV. Not always in real life though. Miranda rights are important if, when you are arrested, a cop intends to interrogate you.  In most DUI cases, no such interrogation happens. Even if one did, and no Miranda rights were read to you, the remedy for such an error would be throwing out any statements you may have made to the cop. This does not mean your entire case would be thrown out.

The Cop lied about why he pulled me over. Can he do that?

No. If the cop does not have a valid reason for pulling you over, your case should be dismissed! This is what the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution is all about. It guarantees you the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that if a cop does not have “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed a crime, you CANNOT be pulled over!