Using Prior Convictions to Enhance a Utah DUI–State v. EILEEN JIMENEZ-WISS,

The Utah Court of Appeal issued the decision in State v. Jimenez-Wiss.  Defendant was charged with Felony DUI based on prior convictions.  One of the convictions involved a case where Defendant was not represented by an attorney and no evidence was produced that Defendant waived the right to have an attorney.  The District Court gleaned from the evidence that Defendant did intend to waiver the right to an attorney.  Utah Court of Appeals disagreed.

The holding states:

“Because the State failed to meet its burden, the district court erred when it denied Jimenez-Wiss’s motion to strike the felony enhancement of her 2012 offense. We therefore vacate Jimenez- Wiss’s conviction on that offense and remand this matter for further proceedings.


¶27 Once the district court found that Jimenez-Wiss had produced evidence that she did not knowingly waive her right to counsel prior to her 2008 DUI conviction, the State bore the burden of establishing that she had waived that right. The only evidence before the district court—the Plea Document—does not demonstrate waiver by a preponderance of the evidence. Moreover, the multiple omissions in the Plea Document raise doubts concerning Jimenez-Wiss’s intentions—doubts our supreme court has held must be resolved against a finding of waiver. The district court therefore erred in denying Jimenez-Wiss’s motion to strike the felony enhancement of her 2012 DUI charge. We vacate Jimenez-Wiss’s conviction on the 2012 charge and remand this matter for further proceedings.”

Posted in Utah DUI Laws

New Utah DUI Ruling on Preclusion–State v. BOBBIE JO NADINE RIRIE

The Supreme Court issued a new decision this week in the case of State v. Bobbie Jo Nadine Ririe.  Essentially, Defendant was charged with traffic charges in a Justice Court.  Before the DUI was filed, Defendant went in and paid the fine on the traffic citations in the Justice Court.  The DUI was then filed as a Felony in the District Court.  Defendant’s attorneys argued the principle of “preclusion.”  They argued that because the traffic infractions and the DUI happened in the same single criminal episode, that paying the traffic citation and essentially pleading guilty to those charges, jeopardy attached and the government was prevented from filing the DUI in District Court.

The Supreme Court held that because the citations were not filed with a formal information and that not prosecutor was involved on the citations, the State was not precluded from filing the DUI and jeopardy did not attach.

The holding paragraph reads:  “Based on these two features of the single criminal episode statute—the requirement of a “prosecuting attorney” and the use of an “information or indictment”—we affirm the district court’s denial of Ririe’s motion to dismiss. We construe those terms as limiting conditions and decline to extend the statute’s principle of claim preclusion beyond its text.”

Lesson learned:  When in this situation, always request a formal information be filed in the case and that you enter your guilty plea in open court with the prosecutor present.

Posted in Uncategorized

Utah DUI 2015 New Potential Laws

The legislature is back in session for the 2015 session.  SB150 is seeking to tweet the DUI Laws in the State of Utah.  The lawmakers are trying to do four things:

  1. The bill will prevent a second time offense from being plead down to an impaired driving.
  2. Get a screening and assessment for a Felony DUI and appropriate treatment.
  3. It extends the ignition interlock device requirement to 10 years.
  4. Makes it a crime to drive without an ignition interlock if ordered to do so.

The first requirement would make it difficult on prosecutors when the facts would warrant a plea deal to an impaired driving.  I was defending an individual on a second time offense.  The officer did not follow proper procedures.  This forced the prosecution to make a plea offer to reduce the second time DUI to a much lesser offense.  Think about this.  If the prosecutor’s ability to plea bargain is taken away, then more people will have no choice but to go to trial.  If they win at trial, then there is not class, no rehabilitation, and consequences.  Whereas, a plea to a an impaired driving on a second offense would still require rehabilitative measures.

The second issue is a change in the law because the discretion was taken away on appropriate treatment.  The law now requires intensive mandatory treatment that may not be appropriate and sometimes not affordable.

The third issue is pretty harsh and unnecessary.  Right now, a person convicted of a DUI is Ignition interlock restricted for 18 months.  This gives the first time offender 18 months to deal with this head ache, reform, and then not deal with it.  This issue simply pads the pockets of the ignition interlock companies.

The last issue makes yet another crime on the books for driving a car without an ignition interlock.

This bill was put on hold for the moment because the feds are telling Utah that our DUI laws are not strict enough.  NOT Strict enough?  We have no employment license to drive like other states, we send people to prison after just three DUIs, our fines are steep, and  the cost is unbearable for a person to survive when they lose their job and can’t drive.  The most common question I get after a DUI sentencing is how do they expect me to pay all of this when they take away my ability to drive, take my job because I can’t drive, and pile on fines and costs?  It becomes impossible to some to bear the financial burden and sets too many people up to fail.

Posted in Utah DUI Laws

Utah DUI Prime for Life Class

If a person is convicted of a DUI or a Driving While Impaired charge, it is statutorily required that the person participate in drug and alcohol treatment by a state certified agency.  The class is called the Prime for Life Class.  This is a 16 hour course taught by agencies throughout Utah.  In fact, many courts have agency representatives sitting in Court signing people up once they enter their plea.  I recommend most of my clients to take some proactive steps and do the class prior to attending the court hearing.  Here is a link to a list of providers all over Utah who are on the court approved list.

Posted in .08 Breath/Blood Alcohol Limit, Consequences of Utah DUI

Utah DUI HB303 “Slightest Degree” is Dropped for Now

After many showed up to the committee meeting to oppose this bill, Rep. Perry put the bill on hold for further study.

Here is an interview wherein Rep. Perry tries to clarify that slightest degree is not a not a drop statute–very confusing.


Posted in Uncategorized, Utah DUI Laws

2014 Utah DUI Proposed Law Changes–Very Scary

Yesterday, Rep Lee Perry, proposed changes to the current DUI Law.  Right now, there are three ways to violate the Utah DUI Law when it comes to alcohol and drugs.  First, you are over an alcohol level of .08 at the time of driving.  Second, you are over an alcohol level of .08 at the time when a chemical test is given after driving.  Third, you are impaired by drugs or alcohol or a combination of  both to the extend that you cannot safely drive a vehicle.  The proposal is to change the third prong and to change it drastically.  The proposal to is to change the language of the third prong to “impaired to the slightest degree”.  Further, the proposed language includes “impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol, drugs, or ANY SUBSTANCE.”  This language is so far overreaching that anyone pulled over could be said to be “impaired to the slightest degree by any substance.”  Caffeine can impair to the slightest degree.  Tylenol can impair to the slightest degree.  Advil can impair to the slightest degree.  Turkey contains a well known substance called tryptophan, which can impair you to the slightest degree by making you tired.  It is interesting that the LDS Church leaders have said the laws do not need to be changed.  What this law would do is put law abiding citizens at risk of being arrested who may or may not have something in their system.  How hard would it be to prove someone is impaired to the “slightest degree” and allege “any substance”.  This is a bill that should not pass or progress any farther.  Keep an eye on HB 303, its dangerous.

Posted in Utah DUI Laws

What happens if I get a DUI in Utah, but my license is from out of State?

If you get a DUI from another state, and have a Utah Drivers License, Utah will suspend your license as if the DUI conviction occurred in Utah.  Many states have similar laws.  My friend, Evan Levow, from New Jersery, compiled a database from most states.  While his information looks correct, it is always best to contact a DUI attorney in your state to verify the information.  Laws change all of the time and there are always exceptions to the rules.  The link to database is  State by State DUI Penalties.

Thank you Evan to your hard work.


Posted in Driver's License