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Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Davis County DUI Attorney - Actual Physical Control

A person does not have to be actually driving a vehicle to be charged with DUI under Utah law. According to Utah's drunk driving statutes, a person can be convicted of DUI if they are either "driving" or in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while intoxicated. Whether driving a vehicle or just in "actual physical control," the penalties for a DUI in Utah can be equally harsh. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be critical. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

Elements of Actual Physical Control

The concept of "actual physical control" is not clearly defined by statute. But appellate courts will often look to the apparent intent of the legislature when interpreting statutes that are less than perfectly clear.

The Utah Court of Appeals held that the legislature "intended to prevent intoxicated persons from causing harm by apprehending them before they operate a vehicle." State v. Barnhart, 850 P.2d 473 (Utah Ct. App. 1993]. The court continued, stating that "a person need not actually move a vehicle, but only needs to have the apparent ability to start and move a vehicle in order to be in actual physical control."

When determining if a person is in "actual physical control" of a vehicle for purposes of a Utah DUI charge, the Court of Appeals has listed several factors that can be considered. For example, a jury may consider whether or not the person had the apparent ability to start and move the vehicle, how the car got where it was found, and whether the person drove it there. Other factors include (but are not limited to) whether the person was asleep or awake when found by police, the position of the automobile, whether the person was found in the driver's seat, whether the vehicle's engine was running, whether there was anyone else in the vehicle, whether the person had the ignition key,.

Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Davis County

Davis County prosecutors and judges take drunk driving charges seriously. If you are facing prosecution for DUI or other criminal charges in Davis County, Utah, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Utah criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Davis County and all of Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts or dismissals on charges including DUI, aggravated robbery, forgery, burglary, fraud, drug charges and more.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Salt Lake Davis Expunged - Client with prior conviction for violent felony was ineligible for expungement through the courts. A successful 2-step reduction restored expungement eligibility and ultimately led to the court's decision to grant the requested expungement.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
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  • What to Do When Arrested for DUI What should I do if I am arrested for DUI? - Many DUI cases begin as minor traffic stops. But the consequences of a DUI conviction are much more serious than an ordinary traffic citation. If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you have specific important constitutional and statutory rights that can protect your. . . .
  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Utah Criminal Defense Strategy

Successfully defending against criminal prosecution requires more than just an 'aggressive' defense. The best defense attorneys understand that a sophisticated defense requires a thorough understanding of a variety of nuanced legal issues, real experience in the courtroom, good negotiation skills, and much more. Fighting hard is good. Fighting smart is better....

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Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Defending against a criminal prosecution in Utah is a job that has to be done right the first time. Choosing the right attorney to defend you can be the most important decision you make. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling some of the most serious felony and misdemeanor charges on the books in Utah. No matter what charges you are facing, we can help....

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Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

In Utah, even a "minor" misdemeanor conviction carries the potential for jail time and significant fines. A felony conviction carries the potential of lengthy prison terms and the various consequences that come with being labeled as a convicted felon. Never plead guilty without first finding out....

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Utah Criminal Attorney - Reasons to Hope

An arrest is not a conviction. If you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah, it can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are things you can do right now that can increase your chances of a good outcome. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you evaluate the various options available to you and help develop a strategy for success....

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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