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Do the police have to tell me why I was pulled over?

If I am charged with DUI in Utah, does the officer have to tell me why I was pulled over?

Many Utah DUI charges begin with a traffic stop. It is common for many police officers to ask "Do you know why I pulled you over?" or other similar questions when they first approach the vehicle. The Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination gives you the right to refuse to answer such a question. But if the officer has probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime, you may find yourself detained as part of a criminal investigation - and the officer may not even tell you why.

A typical DUI investigation begins with a police officer pulling a driver over for an alleged traffic code violation. The officer observes an "odor of alcohol" or behavior that raises a suspicion of intoxication or drug use. This can be the beginning of what can be a complicated investigation process for police, to try to determine whether the driver is intoxicated above the legal limit or otherwise impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance.

If you have been cited or arrested for DUI or other criminal charges in Utah, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be critical to a successful outcome for your case. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

Fourt Amendment Protections and Suppression of Evidence

Any time a person is detained against their will by a police officer, certain Fourth Amendment protections are invoked. The simple act of turning on the red and blue lights or activating the siren and pulling a driver over can constitute a "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment. This kind of detention requires, at a minimum, that the officer be able to provide a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of criminal activity (including traffic violations) as a basis for making the traffic stop.

If the officer is not able to provide provide evidence of a "reasonable, articulable" suspicion, a judge may order the suppression of all evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop. This can include physical evidence, breath test results, statements made by the driver or witnesses, and more. Evidence that is suppressed cannot be used against the defendant at trial. As far as the jury should know, the evidence simply does not exist.

When is the officer required to disclose the reason I was stopped?

While the officer may be required to provide an explanation for why you were pulled over, this is not an argument to get involved with while you are pulled over on the side of the road. If a motion to suppress is filed with the court, the prosecutor can be required to present the officer's testimony and explanation for why you were pulled over. If the judge is convinced that the officer did not have a proper constitutional basis for stopping you, then the evidence can be suppressed.

Getting into an argument with a police officer on the side of the road over why you were pulled over can often lead to even more trouble. The best place to raise this issue is in court.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney

Salt Lake Criminal AttorneyIf you believe you have been stopped by police without proper justification, you should consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer immediately. Stephen Howard has successfully defended DUI cases and many other serious criminal cases during his career. His track record includes successful motions to suppress, not guilty verdicts, and dismissals on some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

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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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