DUI is an acronym for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, referring to a legal charge for drunken driving. In Utah we call this a DUI or Driving Under the Influence. For the most part, the acronym that indicates a drunken driving charge depends on the state in which you are driving. DUI charges can have a lasting impact on your life, from costing you jobs to dooming housing applications. With consequences like those, you want to present the strongest DUI defense possible, and, if you can, get the charges reduced. Here are five ways you can potentially mitigate the damage of a DUI charge.
• Attend drunk-driving education: Many states allow those charged with DUI to complete some form of an education programming lieu of jail time, more serious charges, and other penalties. Also called OWL education classes, these programs explore the dangers of high-risk driving behaviors and the effects of alcohol and drugs on the body. In some states, an alcohol education program (AEP) is a mandatory component of an DUI sentence or probation, but other states offer it as a mitigating option. For example, some states only allow those who have completed a DUI education class to have their licenses reinstated.
• Take a plea bargain: If there are any issues with the evidence the state is presenting, your lawyer might want to negotiate with the prosecutor for a plea bargain. With a plea bargain, a prosecutor offers reduced charges and/or sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea. The state may consider a plea bargain if its case has shortcomings, such as a lack of probable cause for pulling you over or insufficient evidence due to your refusal to provide a breath or blood sample. The state may, for example, reduce your DUI charges to reckless driving with a plea. Keep in mind that, in some states, reckless driving carries harsher penalties than first-offense DUI. However, your attorney may still advise you to plead to that charge just to keep a DUI off your record.
• Accept and complete probation: If you have no other DUI charges besides your current offense, you may be eligible for probation instead of jail or prison time. Usually, states will offer you probation if you have an otherwise clean criminal history.
In many cases, if you complete probation successfully, you will not face a DUI conviction. The terms of your probation may include:
1. Receiving a substance abuse evaluation
2. Attending a DUI education class
3. A driver’s license suspension
4. Payment of court fines
5. Random drug testing
6. Probation fees
7. Meeting with a probation officer
• Complete a rehabilitation program: If you have repeat offenses, you don’t have as many options for your DUI defense. Repeat DUI offenders typically face considerable jail or prison time. This may also be the case for a first offense DUI that resulted in an accident or injury. One way to mitigate your sentence for these enhanced charges is to agree to attend an inpatient alcohol and drug rehabilitation program in lieu of a prison sentence. The court may give you the option of going to inpatient treatment for the same amount of time you would spend in jail or prison. Remember that your treatment will be court-mandated, which means you will have to finish treatment and successfully maintain sobriety to fulfill your sentence.
• Have your DUI charges expunged: If your DUI sentence involved probation and no prison time, you might be eligible to have your DUI charges expunged upon successfully completing probation. Expungement is typically only available to first time DUI offenders whose criminal records are otherwise clean. For instance, some states offer a deferred adjudication where the court withholds judgment and sentencing for a specified period. When that period expires, if the defendant has complied with all the conditions of probation, the DUI charge is completely expunged, or erased, from the record. Once the charge is expunged, only law enforcement will be able to see it. DUI charges don’t have to have devastating consequences.
If you have been arrested for an DUI in Utah, a conviction can result in serious penalties. Not only does it result in serving time in jail, paying expensive fines and losing the ability to drive for an extended period of time, but also having a criminal record can have a negative impact on your life and reputation. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the charges with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Your lawyer can make a plea bargain with the prosecutor to have your DUI charge reduced to the lesser charge of reckless driving involving alcohol or even careless driving. Although the maximum penalties for DUI and reckless driving are the same (i.e. 93 days of jail time and fine of $500), a careless driving is a civil infraction that results in no jail time and no criminal record. The prosecution typical agrees to bargain down an DUI charge for first-time offenders, when the BAC is on the borderline of 0.05 percent, or when there are weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against the defendant. Another lesser charge that can be obtained via a plea deal is reckless driving. Essentially, a person can be convicted of this charge if there are visible impairment indications, as imposed to being under the influence. While the penalties between DUI and other crimes are similar, some of them are less severe.
For instance, there is a hard license suspension associated with DUI. We can fight it, but it’s usually revoked. Furthermore, points on your driver record and the fines are much lower. The strategies in this section are effective for reducing or preventing drunk driving. They are recommended by The Guide to Community Preventive Services and/or have been demonstrated to be effective in reviews by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Different strategies may require different resources for implementation or have different levels of impact. Find strategies that are right for your state. Drunk driving laws make it illegal nationwide to drive with a BAC at or above 0.08%. For people under 21, zero tolerance laws make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.
Sobriety checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to see if the driver is impaired. Police may stop all or a certain portion of drivers. Breath tests may be given if police have a reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated.
Ignition interlocks installed in cars measure alcohol on the driver’s breathe. Interlocks keep the car from starting if the driver has a BAC above a certain level, usually 0.02%. They’re used for people convicted of drunk driving and are highly effective at preventing repeat offenses while installed. Mandating interlocks for all offenders, including first-time offenders, will have the greatest impact. Multi-component interventions combine several programs or policies to prevent drunk driving. The key to these comprehensive efforts is community mobilization by involving coalitions or task forces in design and implementation. Mass media campaigns spread messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving. They persuade people not to drink and drive and encourage them to keep other drivers from doing so. Campaigns are most effective when supporting other impaired driving prevention strategies.
Administrative license revocation or suspension laws allow police to take away the license of a driver who tests at or above the legal BAC limit or who refuses testing. States decide how long to suspend the license; a minimum of 90 days is effective.
Alcohol screening and brief interventions take advantage of teachable moments to identify people at risk for alcohol problems and get them treatment as needed. This combined strategy, which can be delivered in health care, university, and other settings, helps change behavior and reduces alcohol-impaired crashes and injuries.
The penalties will vary according to the level of intoxication, the severity of the incident and how many previous DUI related offenses the defendant has on record. It is possible for DUI charges to be reduced, or perhaps even dropped, under certain circumstances. It is almost definite that retaining an attorney who knows the details of the law will be beneficial in that endeavor. Your BAC, personal history and the severity of the incident are all taken into consideration when negotiating a plea bargain to drop or reduce your DUI charge. In Utah, everyone convicted of DUI is subject to suspension of their driver’s license for six months, even a first-time offender. However, it is possible for a driver to be eligible for a restricted license after only 30 days, reducing the time the driving privilege is revoked. For a first-time offender in Utah, it is possible for the charges to be reduced to what is called an operating while visibly impaired (DWVI) offense under a plea bargain. This charge, which still carries serious consequences, is a lesser offense than DUI or DUI, because it is considered a misdemeanor charge.
Without exception, anyone charged with a DUI wants to get it dropped or amended to a non-drinking offense such as careless driving. Realistically, a DUI is rarely dropped down to a non-drinking or non-criminal offense. The question of jail time causes our clients the most anxiety and stress and we try to cover it as soon as possible. The following is a partial list of factors that a judge considers when imposing a sentence for a DUI:
• Prior record of the offender
• Age of prior criminal offenses
• Aggravating circumstances (injury to another person)
• Blood alcohol content
• Compliance with bond conditions before sentence
Pursuant to the 6th Amendment of the Utah Constitution, the accused party in any criminal matter has a trial by jury. In determining whether or not to demand a trial, our drunken driving defense lawyers will make recommendations based upon various factors. Since trials can be expensive and risky, the client is always given the final word. Here are a few legal considerations that we explore when discussing the option of trial with our clients:
• Whether the prosecutor can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
• Review of DUI major components: operation of vehicle, legality of traffic stop and impairment or intoxication.
• Whether the prosecutor has made a reasonable plea bargain or has been tough on negotiations and there is nothing to lose by going to trial.
• Whether aggravating circumstances will be brought up at trial making things worse for the accused party.
• Whether the jury will be given instructions to consider a verdict for a lesser offense such as impaired driving.
In reality, the odds of an DUI case going to trial are remote. Plea bargaining is also used extensively by criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors in the counties of Utah. For the most part, plea bargains usually, but not always, mean a reduction from the original charge to a lesser more acceptable one. The idea of being put in a better position and saving the expense and risks associated with a trial is hard to turn down in most cases.
The following penalties are associated with DUI convictions in Utah. Driver license sanctions (consisting of revocation, suspension and/or restrictions) and points are mandatory and imposed by the Utah Secretary of State only after a conviction is entered by the court. For misdemeanor offenses, the court may impose a maximum period of 2 years probation. For felonies, the court may impose a maximum period of 5 years probation. There are times when an overzealous or misguided officer will attempt to obtain evidence in a manner that does not comply with 4th Amendment rights.
Evidence could be obtained without a warrant, obtained outside of the terms of the warrant, or obtained without probable cause. These pieces of evidence can be taken out of the case before the trial even begins through what’s called “a motion to suppress evidence.” Sometimes key pieces of evidence that are taken out of court can be cause for a dismissal of charges. If a prosecutor loses a key piece of evidence for some of the charges he or she is holding against you, he or she may choose to drop certain charges, or reduce the severity of the charges. Suppression motions are typically handled in writing; however, they sometimes go to a hearing, where the judge will make a determination.
DUI Attorney Free Consultation
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506