DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, and most people think of drinking alcohol or some type of alcoholic beverage that impedes their ability to drive. Utah just recently passed the lowest blood alcohol limit in the entire country. It used to be 0.08, and now it’s 0.05 for you to be considered under the influence. It’s not just alcohol, it’s also any type of substance that can impede your ability to drive, including marijuana or any other type of narcotic, even prescribed narcotics, that can influence your ability to drive. All of these can result in you being charged with a DUI if you are out driving and either going too slow, end up in a traffic accident, or speeding and other reckless behavior on the road.
What Are The Top Misconceptions That People Have About Being Arrested For A DUI?
One of the top misconceptions about being arrested for a DUI is some people think that they don’t have to cooperate with the police. Anytime you are pulled over, you ought to cooperate. There is case law that even says that you have to give your name, if you are asked your name. So you always want to be cooperative. If you are not cooperative, the chances are you are going to spend the night, or maybe a day or two, in jail before you’ll be able to get out. So that’s the first big misconception.
The second big misconception is that you are going to be able to keep your driver’s license. In the state of Utah, you have a 10-day window from the date you are charged with the DUI to when you need to notify the DMV that you want to contest or have a hearing about your driver’s license. It’s an administrative hearing, and most of the time you will have your license suspended for at least a year—even if that charge comes back and you’ve been found innocent, or they drop the DUI charge. The mere fact that you were arrested and charged means that the Utah DMV will suspend your license, unless you can prove otherwise, and that burden is very high. The administrative officer will just simply suspend your driver’s license.
Another misconception is that you are not going to be charged, because sometimes people get arrested, and they either let go or somebody comes and picks them up and they are not cited right away. Under Utah law, the state has two years time to charge you with a DUI. You could be charged two years later, so sometimes people slip through the cracks. They don’t hear anything for a few months, and they think they’re not going to be charged. Most likely, you’re just in the middle of the system and you haven’t been charged yet.
There is also a misconception that you don’t have to serve any jail time if you are convicted of a DUI. There is a minimum sentence of 48 hours or two days in jail for first time offense for a DUI. Most people aren’t aware of that and no one wants to spend a weekend in jail. Unless there are some other extenuating circumstances, you are going to end up spending a couple of days in jail. The other misconception is if you have a second, third, fourth, fifth DUI that it’s not going to get any worse. They think that it’s the same thing, you just get a couple of days in jail and you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, every time you have a DUI, especially in the last 10 years, the charges compound and they go from being misdemeanor crimes to being felony crimes.
You can have some very serious repercussions from drinking and driving or being under the influence while driving in the state of Utah. Another misconception is that you actually have to be driving. The Utah code says you don’t actually have to be driving, you just have to have the keys in the ignition and be in control of the vehicle. So that means that the police officers can be scoping you out at a bar or at a restaurant, or a concerned citizen can call in and report you, and the police officers can observe you walking to your car. You get in your car, turn the car on, and then you are arrested right there for a DUI even though you haven’t pulled out of the parking lot yet.
Why Is It Not Advisable To Plead Guilty To DUI Charges?
The first thing is as we mentioned earlier, they can compound if you ever get a future DUI. So if you know you have a problem with alcohol, or you think you might have a problem with alcohol, chances are you are going to re-offend. The first thing is to get you in some type of treatment so you are not going to re-offend. The second thing is we want to keep as many charges off of you as possible because the moment you plead guilty, not only are the penalties going to come down but any future penalties are going to be a lot worse. Additionally, the fines in Utah are $1,395 for the first offense. You definitely don’t want to have to pay that if you don’t have to. We can usually get those fines reduced.
It’s also possible that the police made a mistake in their investigation—they may have cited you with the wrong thing, or there may be some discrepancy involved in what they did. We want to get cops with body cameras or dash cam videos and things like that to see if we can get you on a different offense, something different. There is also sometimes ways to mitigate whatever it is you’ve done wrong. There is a good reason that you were out drinking and driving. Perhaps you had a horrible life event, perhaps somebody in your family died or some other reason that we can use as a good excuse to get you a deviation downward on either the charges or the sentencing. That’s why it’s one of the worst things you can do is just show up and plead guilty.
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