DUI Charges and The Most Common Mistakes Made

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1. Don't forget the 10 day deadline!

So many people forget to read the fine print on the citation. The United States Supreme Court has emphatically stated that a driver's license is a privilege, not a right. However, in our modern world, that's not true for most people. Gone are the days when people worked 9 to 5 at the factory and could walk or take the bus to work. People need to drive. If you don't request a driver's license hearing in the first 10 calendar days, you will lose your license, regardless of how good your case might be. And there's nothing an attorney can do about it after the fact. Call now, no obligation!

2. Don't forget the 5-14 day deadline!

The second deadline in any DUI case is to contact the court. On the left-hand side of the citation, about ¾ of the way up, you'll see your assigned court. Right below that are instructions to contact the court in "no less than 5, nor more than 14 days." Many people miss that instruction. If that happens, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. An officer may then be sent to your home or to your place of employment to arrest you. If your job wasn't already in jeopardy, it will be if police officers show up!

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3. You don't have to take Field Sobriety Tests!

Field sobriety tests, in theory, are designed to show an officer when someone is or is not impaired. That being said, it could be argued that the research is flawed and/or unfairly biased. Most people, whether sober or not, will fail the field sobriety tests. Many officers forget what it's like to be investigated for a crime. You're scared. You're embarrassed. It's probably late at night and you're tired. You may be doubting yourself. And even though you believe you are not impaired, you may be worrying, since you've had a drink. Under those conditions, you would likely fail the tests. At that point, the officer will arrest you and force you to blow into an intoxilyzer machine or draw your blood. If you don't take the field sobriety tests, the officer will arrest you, but (1) you won't have lost your dignity by failing a subjective test, and (2) you won't have given the officer unfair information they could use against you in court.

4. You don't have to take a chemical test!

In the state of Utah, you are not required to take a breath, blood, or urine test if suspected of DUI. However, there are penalties if you don't. Under the "implied consent" law, if you refuse to give a breath, blood, or urine test when suspected of DUI, you will lose your driver's license for 18 months on a first offense or 36 months on each subsequent offense. This is the price you pay for not giving them a sample. In many jurisdictions, officers now have the E-warrant system in their cars and can contact a judge who is waiting on call to grant a warrant to draw your blood. If that happens, they will be able to take your license for 18 months and still get your blood tested. While I recommend not taking field sobriety tests, unless you can risk your driver's license for 18 months, I recommend taking a breath test.

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5. Don't be afraid to fight!

Many people are afraid to fight. You blew over the legal limit so you're just guilty, right? Wrong. If you simply plead guilty without putting up a fight, you will get far more harsh consequences than if you assert your rights and prepare to fight. In most cases, the longer your fight, the better your outcome, even if you didn't think you had a good case to begin with.

6. Go to trial!

This includes going to trial. Many people (lawyers included!) are afraid of trial. I have taken cases to trial simply because the prosecutor wouldn't make me an offer. If they won't give you a deal don't give up your rights! That's bargaining power. It's a reason for the prosecutor to make you an offer. If it doesn't work at the justice court, you can appeal and try again at the district court. The Founding Fathers of this country fought to give you Constitutional rights. Don't give them up!

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7. Don't believe the numbers!

Prosecutors and cops would have you believe that whatever number a machine spits out is right. If it says .08 or above, you're guilty, end of story. Wrong! It's a complicated science, and they don't want you to know about it. First of all, the machine, or Intoxilyzer 8000, is not 100% accurate. It is only required in Utah to be tested to within +/- .005. That means you could blow a .084 but actually have a blood alcohol level of .079. Also, cops are required to follow what's known as the Baker rule. It means they have to watch you for at least 15 minutes prior to having you blow in the Intoxilyzer to make sure nothing is in your mouth, you don't put anything in there, and nothing comes out. So, if you have gum in your mouth, it could cause a faulty test. If you threw up before blowing in the machine, it could be a faulty test. If you burped before blowing in the machine, it could be a faulty test. Do NOT simply accept what they tell you!

The Cost of DUI in Utah

KUTV 2 News Interview with top Utah DUI and Criminal Defense attorney Branson K. West.

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Branson has handled thousands of Utah DUI charge cases in Salt Lake City and the local court systems. He KNOWS Utah's judges and he knows the prosecutors who handle the DUI cases in Utah. Most of all, he knows how to defend you against DUI charges in Utah successfully. If you find yourself charged with drunk driving or a DUI, call Branson, the best DUI lawyer in Utah, at 801-285-5550. For those facing DUI charges in or around SLC, Branson K. West is the DUI attorney with the experience to win.

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