DUI Defense

Find yourself searching for a “DUI attorney near me”?

You’re not alone. A DUI can be a life changing event. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of your life as you know it. You can get through it and put it behind you.

After handling thousands of DUI cases over 19 years, I have come to realize that no two cases are the same. Your case is unique.

The facts that led to the charges are unique and you are unique as a person. That being said, there are basic starting points for every DUI. The law that applies to each DUI case is the same.

If you have been charged with a DUI, and want to know a quick snapshot of the DUI law, here you go:

What are the Punishments of a DUI?

If you have been charged with a DUI, you can expect a long and difficult road ahead. But don’t panic – there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are many defenses to a DUI charge and many strategies to minimize the loss and pain caused by a DUI.

A DUI is not a charge to try to defend by yourself.

For adults (21 and above) facing a first offense within the past 10 years, punishments include:

  • minimum 48 hours of jail or 48 hours of community work service if your breath or blood alcohol is under .16. (Class B Misdemeanor)
  • 5 days of jail OR 2 days of jail followed by 30 days of consecutive electronic home confinement that includes substance abuse testing if your breath or blood alcohol is above .16 or you have multiple controlled substances in your system. 
  • $1380 in fines and surcharges
  • a screening at a state-approved alcohol treatment agency
  • possibility of supervised probation
  • ignition interlock device requirement after you are re-licensed
  • 120 day driver license revocation
  • If you have a BrAC over .16 OR have alcohol AND a controlled substance in your body, the penalties are increased to include a mandatory 5 days of jail or 2 days of jail followed by 30 days of an electronic home confinement monitor.  

For adults (21 and above) facing a second offense within the past 10 years, punishments include:

  • minimum of 240 hours (10 days) of jail or 5 days in jail followed by 30 days of electronic home confinement
  • $1570 in fines and surcharges
  • a screening at a state-approved alcohol treatment agency
  • supervised probation
  • ignition interlock device requirement after you are re-licensed
  • a 2 year revocation of driver license
  • If you have a BrAC over .16 OR have alcohol AND a controlled substance in your body, the penalties are increased to include a mandatory 20 days of jail OR 10 days of jail followed by 60 days of electronic home confinement.    

For adults (21 and above) facing a third DUI within 10 years, this becomes a Third Degree Felony, punishments include:

  • minimum of 62.5 days of jail
  • $2,900 in fines and surcharges
  • a screening at a state-approved alcohol treatment agency
  • supervised probation
  • ignition interlock device requirements after you are re-licensed
  • a 2 year revocation of driver license

Take note: Utah law enforcement has implemented the nation’s lowest drunken driving limit. As of December 30, 2018, the legal limit in Utah is 0.05 percent. If a law enforcement officer pulls you over in a motor vehicle and has reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking (driving while intoxicated), they are allowed to submit you to a breath test. If you refuse, you could face additional penalties and may be required to participate in a blood alcohol test to determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration (also known as a BAC test).

What about my License?

Suspension Times After a First DUI Arrest

For drivers who are 21 or older at the time of arrest, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a first offense:

Per-Se arrest – 120 days

Refuse to submit to a chemical test – 18 months

Suspension Times After a Second DUI Arrest

For drivers who are 21 or older at the time of arrest, the following suspension periods will be imposed for a second offense:

Per-Se arrest – 2 years

Refuse to submit to a chemical test – 36 months

Suspension Times for Drivers Under 21

If the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, then the administrative suspension periods for drivers depend on whether the case involves a Per-Se arrest under UCA 53-3-223 or a Not-a-Drop arrest under UCA 53-3-231.

How to Find the Best DUI Attorney?

Choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent you can feel overwhelming. There is a lot on the line when it comes to DUI and drug charges. 

Here are a few key signs of success to look for in a DUI defense attorney, as well as some important tips to consider as you make your decision: 

  • Hire an attorney who fits well with your personality, goals, and interests. You are looking for someone to represent you. The two of you should be on the same page and be able to establish a solid attorney-client relationship.
  • Read AVVO reviews.
  • DUI expertise and plenty of experience is a must! Ensure that the attorney you choose specializes in DUI and has dealt on many DUI cases. Lawyers generally work in several different fields – most covering more than one topic or category. The significant divide within the law industry is between civil law and criminal law. For criminal statutes like a DUI/DWI, out of state marijuana charge, or if you are looking for how to get a possession charge dismissed, you will want to look for a lawyer who works primarily with criminal cases.
  • Be on the lookout for reviews, testimonials, and information regarding previous cases the attorney has settled. This is a surefire way to investigate how previous clients felt about their relationship and the process of working with the attorney.
  • Truth of the matter is – the best fit for you starts with the fit that you can afford. Hiring a DUI defense lawyer is the smartest choice by far. The legal fees will be significantly cheaper than the expenses associated with being charged with a DUI. Set a budget and pick an attorney who fits into that financial framework.
  • Prepare an assessment of your case prior to meeting with potential DUI attorneys. Take the time to organize all details relating to your case. A DUI or marijuana defense attorney cannot make a good, accurate recommendation on your chances of getting your case dismissed if you are not 100% honest with them. Bring any and all evidence you may have to support your case.

DUI Attorney in Utah

When Utah authorities charge you with driving under the influence, the steps you take in the days and weeks that follow could mean the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. A Utah DUI or DWI charge has the potential to lead to substantial penalties, with even first-time offenders facing time behind bars, hefty fines, and ignition interlock device (IID) installation requirements, among other repercussions.  

An experienced DUI attorney in Utah may be able to help you navigate your DUI case and minimize the damage your charge does. Your criminal defense attorney may do so by helping you understand the nuances of the state’s DUI laws, explaining your options, and advising you about what course of action to take. Your lawyer may also help ensure that you keep track of important dates and deadlines and otherwise give yourself your best shot at beating your charge and returning to life as you know it. Once you factor in the financial consequences that come with an arrest for drinking and driving, an attorney’s fee may prove a small price to pay in comparison. 

What Is the Difference Between DUI and Impaired Driving?

While you may hear your lawyer or other DUI attorneys use the terms “DUI” and “Impaired Driving” interchangeably, “DUI” is an acronym for “driving under the influence,” while “Impaired Driving” is a separate and somewhat less serious offense.  

Why? While a DUI conviction may mean at least two days in jail, a mandatory driver’s license suspension, and other repercussions, the consequences associated with a Impaired Driving are often less severe. Should you receive a Impaired Driving rather than a DUI, you may be able to avoid jail time, keep your license, and prevent yourself from having a DUI conviction on your record. In other words, while both terms refer to the act of driving under the influence, the consequences of a DUI are more substantial.  

What DUI Offenses Does Utah Recognize?

Utah laws restrict you from operating a motor vehicle if you are over 21 and have a blood alcohol concentration that exceeds the state’s legal limit of 0.05% or higher or if you are otherwise under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are under 21 years of age, having any amount of alcohol in your blood may constitute a drunk driving violation. Aside from your blood alcohol content, another determining factor in whether you are “under the influence” is whether you can safely operate a vehicle in your condition. 

DUI in Utah may be either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on circumstances and your prior criminal record.  Circumstances that help determine the severity of the impaired driving or DUI charge include whether you are a first-time offender, whether the incident caused bodily injury to anyone, and whether you had underage passengers in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, among other variables. The type of criminal charge you face plays a big role in determining the consequences if convicted. 

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Utah?

The penalties you should expect to face following a Utah DUI offense are substantial. While some of the consequences you face are criminal in nature, you may also find that your conviction prevents you from holding certain jobs. If your arrest was for felony DUI, you might also face other associated repercussions and collateral consequences, including the loss of your right to bear arms, among others. 

The criminal consequences you could face following a DUI in Utah are as follows.

Penalties for first-time offenders who are over 21

Following a first-time drunk driving violation, you may have to spend at least 48 hours behind bars. You might be able to avoid this by instead performing at least 48 hours of community service. You should also expect to pay fines and surcharges that fall somewhere in the ballpark of $1,380, and you must also undergo screening at a state-approved alcohol treatment agency. 

Depending on circumstances, you may also have to participate in probation following your drunk driving conviction. You also stand to lose your license for 120 days. Once you regain the right to drive, you must install and finance an IID on your vehicle and any others you drive at your own expense. 

Penalties for second-time offenders who are over 21

If you are 21 or over and receive a second DUI conviction within the same 10-year span, the DUI penalties you face are even harsher. In addition to either 10 days in jail or five days in jail followed by 30 days of house arrest, you also face fines totaling about $1,570, supervised probation, IID requirements, and a two-year revocation of your license. You also must undergo screening through an alcohol treatment provider.

Penalties for third-time offenders who are over 21

A third DUI within the same 10-year span constitutes a third-degree felony. This offense may lead to at least 62.5 days behind bars, about $2,900 in fines and surcharges, supervised probation, IID requirements, and a two-year loss of your license. This conviction also requires that you undergo screening through a state-approved alcohol treatment provider. 

Other crimes relating to drinking and driving, such as DUI manslaughter, may lead to even harsher penalties. 

Insurance-related consequences

Utah residents who have drunk driving histories almost always see their insurance rates rise after regaining driving privileges. reports that the typical Utah motorist who receives a first-time drunk driving conviction sees his or her annual insurance premiums increase by about 54%. 

If prior to your DUI, you had a pretty normal driving record, you may have paid about $1,212 for insurance each year. A DUI can cost you an additional $656 a year in terms of insurance expenses, with Utah first-time DUI offenders paying closer to $1,868 annually for coverage.

What Are Some Common DUI Defenses?

Many Utah residents who receive charges for DUI but then have those charges dismissed share similar defenses. DUI attorneys may be able to help you work through the details of your case and arrest to determine whether law enforcement officials followed laws and protocols when charging you. 

The first thing your DUI lawyer may ask you is to describe why the law enforcement officer stopped your car in the first place. Authorities need to have “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” to make a traffic stop (and a warrant, your consent, or probable cause to search your car), with “reasonable suspicion” referring to more than just a hunch that you are doing something illegal. A defense lawyer may argue that authorities did not have a valid reason to stop your car, in which case anything that occurred after the traffic stop becomes moot and would thrown out by the judge in charge of your case. 

DUI attorneys know that your DUI charge may also be invalid if the officer on scene administered your field sobriety tests (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and One Leg Stand tests), breath test incorrectly or if the device used to conduct it did not undergo regular or proper maintenance and calibration. If during your field sobriety test, there is inclement weather or bright lights shining in your face from the cruiser, such circumstances may invalidate your test results. 

Breath test devices require regular calibration to produce accurate results. If the police officer on the scene did something wrong when conducting your test, or if the device used never underwent proper calibration or maintenance, it may result in dropped charges. 

Other common DUI defenses your lawyer may consider, depending on circumstances, include chain of custody and affirmative defenses. “Chain of custody” refers to the individuals or agencies who have possession of your blood samples or possession of the substances they believe you had in your system while driving. Whenever a new person or agency takes possession of these samples, they must complete chain of custody forms. Failing to do so may lead to dropped charges. Affirmative defenses vary, but your lawyer may consider anything from entrapment to involuntary intoxication, depending on the details surrounding your case. 

How Might a DUI Defense Attorney Help Your Case?

An experienced DUI attorney from a Utah law firm may be able to help you defend yourself against drunk driving charges that may otherwise impact you personally, professionally, and financially. Without your own DUI lawyer.  A good DUI lawyer with considerable experience in DUI cases may be able to help you determine whether authorities had valid reasons to stop and charge you and whether they took proper steps when administering your test. 

A criminal defense lawyer may also help you determine if you have the option of accepting a plea bargain and pleading guilty to Impaired Driving rather than DUI, which typically comes with lesser penalties. A DUI defense lawyer may also help ensure that you stay on top of important dates and deadlines. For example, to avoid losing your license automatically following a drunk driving arrest, you must contact the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles and request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest.  This is a strict deadline and cannot be extended.  If you miss this deadline, you will not be allowed to have an administrative hearing where your attorney will fight to keep your license.   

A Utah DUI arrest may throw your life into turmoil, but try not to panic. Depending on circumstances, your criminal defense attorney may be able to work toward having the charges dropped or lessened to minimize any impact your DUI case has on your life.

Following an arrest for drunk driving in Utah, you may hear your DUI attorney use the terms “DUI” and “Impaired Driving.” While both terms have to do with driving with alcohol, there are some very important differences between the two – including the penalties associated with each. LEARN MORE

You may have additional concerns if the charge you face is for felony DUI rather than a misdemeanor offense because the consequences associated with a felony offense are typically much more severe than those associated with misdemeanors. LEARN MORE

You also need to request a hearing with the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of your first DUI arrest to retain your driver’s license and avoid an administrative license suspension. LEARN MORE

From the moment you receive a DUI arrest in Utah, you only have 10 days to file a written request for a DLD administrative hearing with the Utah DLD regarding your driver’s license. LEARN MORE

A person can be charged with Driving with Measurable Controlled Substance if they are operating a motor vehicle while having any measurable, illegally consumed controlled substance in the body. LEARN MORE

A standard drink typically has 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Depending on what you drink, the blood alcohol level of each drink will determine a person’s BAC. LEARN MORE

If an officer suspects that you might be driving under the influence of alcohol, they will administer a series of physical tests called the “Standardized Field Sobriety Test” or “SFST. LEARN MORE

If the police officer requests you take a breathalyzer test or intoxilyzer test, and you are refusing a breath test, the consequences can be severe. LEARN MORE