Many people, including judges and attorneys, have the wrong perspective about DUIs in Utah. A lack of knowledge in the area of DUI can have dire consequences to a citizen without realizing it. The Big Lies are:
- A DUI is a “simple charge.” I hear it all the time. “Should I just go in and plead guilty?” Without knowing it, doing so puts your job, your license, your living situation, your gun rights, and your normal ordinary life at risk. A DUI prevents you from having a concealed weapons permit, can prevent you from having many jobs and security clearances, will suspend your license, and can cause problems with renting an apartment. In this competitive job market, a DUI on your record in Utah, can be the difference of not getting a job.
- A DUI is just like any other Criminal Charge. A DUI in Utah is one of the most complex areas of law. Different rules apply in a DUI a case than in a run of the mill criminal case. For example, you have no right to talk with an attorney before you are asked and then forced (with a warrant) to take a chemical test. You are not given Miranda warnings until the end of the investigation, after you have given evidence against yourself such as field sobriety tests and chemical tests. Third, in no other area of the law can you be convicted of a crime without committing the crime at that time. Utah DUI law says you can be under the limit when you drove, but a subsequent test that shows you were above a .08 at the time of the test can still get you charged and convicted of DUI. Further, a DUI cannot be expunged off your criminal record for 10 years.
- You Must be Guilty of a DUI if you were charged. Police officers are human and make mistakes. They are driven by incentives, promotions, glory, etc. just like everyone else. It is not uncommon for me to have a client be arrested for a DUI and have a chemical test that shows absolutely nothing in the body that would impair them. The field tests are not science, they are only indicators. Many people fail field tests for different reasons than being drunk or impaired by drugs. The reality, an officer can see clues of impairment in any person that is put through field sobriety tests.
- You cannot win a DUI Case. This is the biggest lie I have heard. Every case is unique and different. I’m not saying every case will be won. However, with an experienced Utah DUI Attorney, your chances of winning your case increases greatly. Even the worst circumstances in a case can be overcome by good investigation and a well trained DUI Attorney.
- DUI is a Minor Offense. A DUI in Utah is no minor offense. It used to be viewed as a little more serious than a traffic offense. Now, it has more serious consequences than many felony charges. First, a DUI has minimum mandatory sentencing. Hardly any other crimes in the Utah statutes have minimum mandatory sentencing. Second, a DUI cannot be expunged for 10 years. Most felonies can be expunged after 7 years, class A misdemeanors 5 years, and other class B misdemeanors 4 years. Further, a DUI is permanently on your driver license record. While you can expunge a DUI in Utah after 10 years off your criminal record, it never gets expunged from your driving record. A DUI may have a perception of being a minor offense, but in reality, it can be more serious than many felonies.