As the New Year approaches for 2014, troopers, sheriffs, unified police, and local city police will be saturating the state in an effort to arrest people for DUI. There is always a big concentration in Salt Lake City. As an attorney, these saturation patrols concern me. Corners get cut by the police and innocent people get caught in their net and accused of DUI. Just this past month, in the name of DUI saturation patrols, I have defended two people that were totally innocent. One citizen told the officer, I do not drink, I have not taken any medications for two months, and I don’t do illegal drugs. The officer claims he saw many signs of impairment. The man’s blood was drawn, and the results came back showing nothing in his system.
These patrols, such as the one planned this week in Salt Lake City, have purpose and strategy. The purpose is to arrest as many people for DUI as possible and then boast to the media what a good job they did in getting drunk people off the road. As an attorney and practicing in Salt Lake City (and everywhere in the state), I see this every year. The strategy is to find any minor reason to pull citizens over and then test them for DUI. The pull over reasons I have seen in Salt Lake City and other cities are: failure to signal, license plate light out, cross a lane line, make a wide turn, no insurance found on cop’s computer, failing to stop at the sidewalk area before entering the street and a litany of other minor infractions. It is not hard for an officer to find a reason to pull you over, especially when you pull out of a drinking establishment.
Be cautious. Even though it is not against the law to drink and drive, don’t drive if you have had anything to drink. If the officer smells alcohol, the game will be over and you will most likely bet arrested.