The number DUI arrests on Halloween in recent years have been as high as five times the number for an average weekend in some locations in Utah. If you are driving on Halloween don’t drink. And if you are drinking as a part of your Halloween festivities, don’t drive.
Increased DUI Patrols
Halloween and New Year’s Eve are two times that have become notorious for drinking and driving. Police departments, county sheriff’s offices, and the Utah Highway Patrol can engage in increased DUI enforcement efforts during these periods when DUI is perceived to be a greater problem. These efforts can include formal administrative DUI checkpoints, more patrol officers on the road, and concentrating officer activity in locations where suspected DUI offenders may be more likely to be found (e.g., near bars, clubs, etc.)
Before getting in your car, it is important to understand some basics about Utah DUI law. Utah law imposes criminal penalties for a variety of offenses relating to driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
For a traditional “DUI” charge, the prosecution must prove either impairment due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, OR must prove that the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or greater. (Note that as of January 1, 2019, Utah’s legal limit was reduced from 0.08 to 0.05.) A traditional DUI charge based on drugs (rather than alcohol) can be based on illegal drugs or on prescription medications that have been legally dispensed to, administered to, or taken by the driver. In cases involving only medications that are lawfully prescribed to the driver, the prosecutor will have to prove that the medications actually impaired the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.
Utah law also creates a separate DUI-type offense for individuals driving a vehicle with any measurable amount of a controlled substance or controlled substance metabolite that has not been lawfully prescribed to the driver. This offense is often referred to as a DUI-metabolite charge. It does not require any proof of impairment. Even if the drugs were taken days ago and no longer have any effect on the driver’s mental state or ability to safely operate a vehicle, the charge may still be prosecuted.
Utah DUI law also covers more than just “driving” a vehicle. DUI laws in Utah cover both the actual “driving” of the vehicle as well as cases where the defendant was only in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. Charges for “actual physical control” are common where a defendant has fallen asleep (referred to as “passed out” in most police reports) in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
A person who realizes that he or she is intoxicated to the point that they should not drive may be tempted to sit in the car and “sleep it off.” But doing so creates the risk that police may believe the person to be “passed out behind the wheel.” This can lead to a DUI charge for being in “actual physical control.” It is much safer (and more comfortable) to “sleep it off” somewhere other than the vehicle.
Finding a DUI Defense Lawyer in Utah
DUI Attorney in Davis and Weber CountyIf you are facing criminal prosecution for DUI or other crimes in Utah, the assistance an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation with Utah criminal attorney Stephen Howard.
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