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DUI Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

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The best DUI attorneys in Utah - Wasatch Defense Lawyers
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DUI Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Utah, the last thing you want to do is wait to hire an attorney. Utah law is very strict on when DUI cases go to trial and how long you have to plea bargain the case. That’s why it’s important to hit the ground running in order to best protect your quality of life.

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At the Wasatch Defense Attorneys, we know how important this case is to you. That’s why we’ll aggressively attack the charges against you ASAP.

Call the Wasatch Defense Lawyers to schedule a FREE no-obligation DUI case review 801.980.9965.

Save Your Driver’s License

One of the biggest penalties you face in a DUI case is the loss of your driver’s license. Losing the ability to drive places on your own can seriously impede your freedom and your quality of life. You only have 10 days after the arrest to file for an administrative license hearing to try to save your license. If you don’t file for the hearing in time, you automatically lose your driving privileges for a period ranging from 4 months to 2 years.

Utah DUI Penalties

Driving under the influence (DUI), also frequently referred to a driving while intoxicated (DWI) in many states, is considered a serious offense throughout the United States. In Utah, persons operating a vehicle with a BAC of .05% or greater has committed the crime of DUI. In Utah, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any controlled substance the prevents the driver from safely operating a vehicle.
The first DUI offense is generally a Class B misdemeanor. However, the first offense can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor if any harm to a victim resulted from the DUI, and the driver had a minor as a passenger. Thereafter, subsequent DUIs will be charged as Third Degree Felonies.
A second DUI offense is generally also a misdemeanor but you can be charged with a felony if you cause serious injuries or death.

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be extreme. DUI punishments range from up to six months in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000; to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition to any incarceration or fines imposed by the court, an offender will have their license revoked for 120 days.

If a DUI offender is a minor, then their driver’s license will be revoked until they turn 21 or one year; whichever is longer.

If the DUI offender has a prior conviction in the last 10 years, then the license will be revoked for two years. The offender can also expect to attend alcohol treatment and to have a breath test interlock device installed in their vehicle.

Less common, but still legal, DUI punishments include house arrest (including electronic tracking, which you have to pay for), loss of CDL privileges, and court-ordered use of various possible devices that can track your intoxication levels, which you also have to pay for.

Motions to Suppress Your DUI

DUI attorney graphic - Wasatch Defense Lawyers

Motions to suppress are legal arguments presented to a judge before your trial. They typically target evidence but can be used to throw out the entire charge. For example, your defense attorney can use a motion to suppress your DUI if:

  • The officer involved didn’t have enough reasonable suspicion to stop you
  • You were illegally detained or were detained for longer than was reasonable
  • The officer had no reasonable cause for your arrest

Individual pieces of evidence can also be suppressed, particularly if they were obtained illegally or administered incorrectly. An experienced lawyer uses motions to suppress evidence that would typically result in a sure-fire conviction. This is the first step to a good defense.

Minors and Underage Drinking

If you are a minor or are the parent of a minor who has been charged with underage drinking and driving in Utah, the consequences of drinking under the legal age go beyond the penalties listed for those over 21. If the defendant is underage and was just caught drinking—just drinking, not even driving—the court can still order the defendant’s license revoked, and it can stay revoked for up to two years.

If your child is facing charges for underage drinking, you need a Top-Rated DUI Defense Attorney in Utah who can guide you every step of the way. At Wasatch Defense Lawyers, you are well supported, and you remain informed on important developments of the case. Please contact us today for a no-obligation case review.

Measuring the Level of Intoxication

The liver metabolizes about one standard drink per hour in a healthy person. One to two drinks will raise a person’s BAC by .01-.05% depending on several factors such as size, body-mass, gender, age, and any prescriptions the person may be taking. After two to three drinks, most people will have a BAC between .06%. Mental processes including memory, judgment, reaction time, perception, and fine motor skills will be inhibited at that level of intoxication. High BAC is typically associated with a loss of social inhibition, loss of balance, slurred speech, low body temperature, trouble breathing, vomiting, and even death.

Law enforcement relies on two main methods of determining BAC: the field sobriety tests, and breathalyzer analysis.

The Romberg Balance Test:

The Romberg Balance Test is administered broadly across most jurisdictions. The Romberg test is based on certain physiological principles that suggest that three functions are involved in remaining standing still: vision, proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), and vestibular function (the balance provided by the inner ear). Police officers who pull over any driver may administer this test if there is a reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. The officer will ask the suspect to stand still with their feet together, tilt their head back and close their eyes, and ask them to estimate how long 30 seconds takes to pass.

The officer will be looking for:

  1. body sway
  2. eyelid or body tremors
  3. annunciation of words
  4. the ability to follow directions

Drivers with disabilities or injuries do NOT have to engage in these field tests. The Driver need only communicate that they are medically incapable of performing the tests, and the officer will be constitutionally obliged to respect the driver’s medical limitations.

Breathalyzer test photo - Utah DUI Lawyers

Breathalyzer Analysis:

Breathalyzers determine the BAC by measuring certain metabolic responses the body has to alcohol. Around 98% of alcohol passes undigested through the digestive system to be later processed by the liver. After alcohol enters the bloodstream, it is circulated throughout the body until it is eliminated by the liver. Before being fully processed, alcohol circulates in the bloodstream and through the lungs where about 2-8% of any alcohol consumed by a person will be exhaled. The amount of alcohol exhaled by a person correlates directly with the amount of undigested alcohol in the bloodstream.
Breath tests can detect alcohol consumption up to 24 hours after consumption
, but breath tests cannot measure how high an individual BAC may have been in the past. All licensed drivers have given implied consent to receive breathalyzer analysis under Utah law. However, to provide a proper sample, a driver must blow hard and long enough. Some people experience shortness of breath as a result of some medical conditions. If a driver has a genuine medical condition, they must engage in the breathalyzer analysis to the best of their ability. All breathalyzer tests are video recorded, and so all drivers must exhibit a genuine effort to provide a breath sample. But if a driver cannot medically provide a breath sample, they cannot be prejudiced for that disability.

There is no metric currently available for law enforcement to measure the subjective experience of intoxication. There are field sobriety tests that are routinely administered by law enforcement—but some folks operate rather well after consuming a moderate amount of alcohol; while other people may be incapable of performing certain physical tests even having not consumed any alcohol.
Because there is no way to determine subjective functionality, law enforcement has come to rely upon blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as an objective standard to describe how drunk a person may be. BAC represents the amount of alcohol actively displacing blood within a person’s body. And research has shown that even small amounts of alcohol directly impede certain mental and physical processes. Legislatures have generated laws based on BAC as a reliable metric, and Utah, for example, currently enforces a BAC of .05% as the legal limit.

Schedule a Free DUI Case Review with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT

Utah has some of the strictest laws in the nation for driving under the influence of intoxicants. The state depends on proven methods to determine a driver’s level of intoxication, and the punitive consequences of a conviction are rather severe. Law enforcement relies on measuring the blood alcohol content of a driver in order to prove a DUI in a court of law. Educated drivers can evoke their rights, and give themselves the best possible opportunity to challenge any DUI charge.
If you are charged with a DUI, there is a potential for dire outcomes. Utah sentences DUI offenders to heavy fines and fees for even first-time convictions, and any subsequent DUIs thereafter result in third-degree felony charges and possibly prison time! The overwhelming force of our legal institutions and the potential for punitive outcomes can be incredibly distressing. But there is no need for our clients to worry needlessly—because there are ways to defend against a DUI, and know how!

Being charged with a DUI is a serious challenge, but it does not need to derail your life. At Wasatch Defense Lawyers, we know how to navigate the criminal justice system to optimize our client’s outcome. Every DUI case is different, but our team of experienced Utah DUI Attorneys know how to approach the unique challenge that each DUI client presents.

If you’re facing DUI charges, call Wasatch Defense Lawyers, Salt Lake City UT at (801) 980-9965 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation, to have the best DUI attorney in Utah defending you.


Frequently Asked Questions About DUI’s in Utah


What to do when you are stopped for DUI?

Do not respond to questions such as “How many drinks have you had?” You have a Constitutional right to refrain from responding to a police officer’s queries about alcohol or drug consumption.

Should you submit to a test? Consider that a DUI offense can mean suspension of driving privileges—and refusing to submit to a test will seriously lengthen the suspension.

If I get pulled over for DUI in Utah, do I have to answer the officer’s questions?

Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present while you are being questioned, and the right to have a lawyer appointed for you if you cannot afford to hire one. While officers are not required by law to read those rights to you, if they do not do so, your DUI defense lawyer may ask that any answers you give to authorities without an attorney present not be used against you in court.

If I get pulled over for DUI in Utah, do I have to perform the Field Sobriety Tests?

At the time you receive a Utah driver’s license, under Utah law, you are “implying” that you thereby give your consent to provide a breath, or urine, or blood sample if a law officer finds that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting you of a DUI violation. You can legally opt not to provide the sample, however, the consequence for refusal is severe.

On the first DUI offense, if you do take the breathalyzer test and your license is suspended as a result, it is taken for 4 months. But, If you choose not to take the breathalyzer test, your license will be taken for 18 months!

Will a DUI in Utah Trigger Jail Time?

The first DUI offense in Utah usually does not result in jail time. More typically, for the first DUI conviction, sentencing is for 48 hours of community service allowed in substitution of jail time. An experienced Utah DUI defense lawyer can normally get this arrangement approved for you.

For the second DUI offense, State law calls for 10 days of jail time. There is disagreement in the Utah courts about which DUI offense requires time served and which others allow you to do community service or wear an ankle monitor in substitution for the 10 days jail time.

On the third DUI offense, Utah law demands 62.5 days minimum jail time, and the option of an ankle monitor in lieu of jail is usually not allowed.

If I’m charged with a DUI, will I be required to install an ignition interlock device in my car?

Yes, if convicted of a DUI offense in Utah, having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle is required. The length of time you may be required to have the device in your car depends on several factors, including your age, the total number of DUI offenses of which you have been convicted, and any violations committed involving the ignition interlock device.

What rights do I have at the time of arrest in Utah?

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the full set of Miranda rights for every person in the country, including both citizens and noncitizens alike. Contrary to popular belief, the police are not legally required to inform you of these rights at the time you are arrested. However, if your rights are not read to you, an experienced Utah DUI lawyer may ask that any statements you make to the police are not used against you in court.

In the U.S., every person’s during an arrest right include:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to have an attorney present with you during questioning
  • The right to have a lawyer appointed for you if you cannot afford to hire one.

Being arrested can feel shocking and stressful. If you are facing DUI charges, you will need the best Utah DUI attorney available to you. Call (801) 980-9965 for a free confidential legal consultation.

Will I lose my license if I’m charged with a DUI in Utah?

You can expect that your license will be taken at the time of an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). You will be given a temporary driver license that expires within 30 days from the date it is issued to you. If you do not request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days from being charged with the DUI, your license will automatically be suspended.

There is not an option in Utah to receive a license that limits you to driving only between home and work, as some other states offer. Your best alternative for protecting your driver’s license in a DUI case is to work with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI lawyer.

Will going to AA (alcoholics anonymous) meetings help me with my DUI defense?

Going to AA is unlikely to help you in your DUI defense. Utah courts do not usually recognize AA meetings as a form of medical treatment. You may feel that the meetings are beneficial to you, but the judge will not consider attendance at those meetings as changing your situation at all. A better alternative, one with real potential to improve your position, is to meet with a substance abuse evaluator who is licensed in the state of Utah and obtain an evaluation.

If the evaluator recommends that you enter treatment or attend classes, you should follow that advice, even if you are also attending AA meetings. Judges and prosecutors find completing counseling more impressive than going to AA.

You will also need to work with the best DUI attorney Utah has available to you.

Why would I plead “not guilty” if I am guilty?

To plead “not guilty” at your arraignment does not necessarily mean that you are officially claiming that you didn’t commit the offense you’re charged with. It does not mean you are being dishonest or that you are denying responsibility. It only means that at this stage of the legal process, you are still considering all your options. You are well-advised not to forfeit your rights by simply pleading guilty at the arraignment, before finding out what appropriate and effective legal defenses may be available.

You also may be entitled to receive a reduced punishment. So, give yourself time to explore what is possible under Utah law regarding DUI’s, to ensure all of your rights are fully protected, and work with a top Utah DUI attorney.

What if I blew a .082 on my breath alcohol test? Am I just guilty?

No, you might not be guilty of an alcohol offense. This result indicates that you are within the test’s margin of error. Juries understand that the Intoxilyzer 8000 alcohol test device most commonly used for roadside breathalyzer tests is only tested to within +/- 0.005 alcohol grams per 210 liters of air. That means that 0.082 is within the acknowledged margin of error.

For instance, you might actually have a breath alcohol concentration of 0.077 but register 0.082 on the test device. In this margin is the gap between guilt and innocence! So, in this kind of DUI case, you will need the best DUI attorney in Utah to defend you aggressively and ensure all your rights are fully protected!

I passed the field sobriety tests. Can the cop still arrest me?

That depends upon any other kinds of evidence the police officer may have. To stop you, the police are required to have “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed a crime. When you are arrested in Utah, the degree of evidence the officer has must be higher, reaching the level of constituting “probable cause.” So, if you passed the commonly used field sobriety test exercises, the officer is required to weigh the evidence overall, and determine whether it amounts to probable cause that you have committed DUI.

To illustrate, if you have a strong odor of alcohol, are slurring your speech, can’t stand upright, and have caused an auto accident, but still passed the sobriety test, the arrest may have been legal to perform. But, if you were guilty of just failing to use a turn signal or some other common mistake, and did not exhibit any other indicators of being intoxicated, your rights were probably violated. You should get help from an experienced Utah DUI lawyer to approach the court to dismiss your case!

I didn’t give a breath or blood sample. Doesn’t that mean they don’t have any evidence?

No, other types of evidence may be used. Utah law provides for any of three ways that a prosecutor can present proof of DUI, by showing the court:

  • That a blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) test measured 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 mL of air when you were operating the vehicle, or
  • That you had BAC measuring 0.08 g/100 mL in a later test, or
  • That you were not capable of operating the vehicle safely, based on an unacceptable pattern of driving, poor performance on field sobriety tests, or on other evidence of impairment that you displayed.

Under Utah Code Title 41, Chap 6a, Part 5, Sec 520, refusing to submit to an alcohol test is an offense that may lead to penalties. But, if you were not presented with a blood or breath alcohol test, then with a top Utah DUI attorney building a proper defense for you, the other forms of evidence are less likely to bring a jury to a guilty conclusion when you have passed the alcohol test.

They never read me my rights. Shouldn’t that cause my case to be thrown out?

No, police officers are not actually legally required to read the Miranda rights in Utah to suspects when they make arrests. That requirement only applies to movies and TV dramas. However, having your Miranda rights stated for you becomes very important if a police officer is planning to question you when you are arrested.

The majority of DUI arrests do not involve interrogation. But, even if you were interrogated without being informed of your Miranda rights, the solution would be that the court would not consider any statements you made to the police officer. Your DUI defense lawyer will deal with that issue for you. But, it would not result in having your whole case dismissed.

What are the drunk driving penalties by the state of Utah?

The possibilities are many:

  • Fines.
  • Substance abuse education.
  • Jail time.
  • Electronic tracking.
  • Devices that detect and record intoxication levels.
  • Fees to cover the costs of these measures.

You can also be banned from the roads from four months to two years. After a DUI arrest, you have 10 days to petition for an administrative hearing to keep your driving privileges.

How to drop DUI charges?

Pieces of evidence may be suppressed if the police obtained them illegally or made mistakes. In some cases, a Motion to Suppress can result in throwing the entire charge out of court.

Hire the Utah DUI attorney Salt Lake City residents trust. If there are factual and legal reasons your charges may be dropped, that is our first line of attack.

How to get a felony DUI dropped to a misdemeanor?

A Motion for Reduction of Conviction from a felony charge is worth making to avoid jail time or to obtain later expungement from your criminal record. In many cases, we ask for a 402 reduction under Utah Code Section 76-3-402. We argue that justice requires that the degree of your conviction be reduced. If there is no opposition from the other side, the court may grant the motion, either with or without a hearing.

How can a DUI lawyer help me?

Your DUI Defense Attorney in Utah can help by obtaining the best possible outcome in your case.

For instance, a DUI lawyer in Salt Lake City will examine the paperwork and evidence to find shortfalls. Significant errors on the police report may spare you from facing the charges. In other cases, the police may lack reasonable cause to make a traffic stop, make an arrest, or even hold a person for questioning too long.

How much does a DUI lawyer cost?

This depends on the facts and complexity of your case. We can assure you that it is very costly not to have a lawyer experienced with the Salt Lake City area legal system. We know how important this case is to you—and how hard you work for your money. We offer military discounts and payment arrangements.

Protect yourself, your ability to drive, and your job opportunities. Get cost-effective legal representation as soon as possible.

What questions should I ask a DUI lawyer?

Ask how the firm customizes a strategy to meet the needs of the individual client.

Be sure the firm has years of experience with cases similar to yours, and that it offers comprehensive criminal defense. This includes investigation, forensic analysis, and expert witnesses.

Ask how many clients have been jailed. For Attorney Craig R. Chlarson, Esq., the percentage is less than 1%.


Call Now

If you’re facing DUI charges, call Wasatch Defense Lawyers, Salt Lake City UT at (801) 845-3494 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation, to have the best DUI attorney in Utah defending you.

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