Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Take the first step in securing a successful defense.
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what our team can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Evidence of Drug/Alcohol Use or Impairment

Goldilocks Theory of Drug/Alcohol Investigation

What indicators will police officers look for in assessing whether a driver or other person has used or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

The best information or evidence of drug or alcohol use or impairment, short of a confirmed laboratory analysis, often comes from the correct administration of NHTSA-approved standardized field sobriety tests (SFST's). Before conducting field sobriety tests or requesting a blood or urine sample to be tested, police can be required to establish reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred. In order to develop evidence to establish reasonable articulable suspicion or probable cause, many police officers will look for visual or audible signs or indicators of impairment or drug use.

Utah Drug Case Defense - Choose the BestMany of these supposed visual or audible "indicators" are problematic in that they require a subjective assessment of a person's behaviors or physical conditions. Many of these factors are not subject to a binary yes-no assessment, but can instead fall along a range of conditions or behaviors. The necessary subjective analysis sometimes results in a Goldilocks assessment, where behaviors and conditions on one end of a spectrum can be considered as indicators of drug or alcohol use or impairment, and behaviors and conditions on the opposite end of the spectrum can also be viewed as indicators of use or impairment. Only when the condition or behavior falls in the Goldilocks zone (not to hot or too cold, not too hard or too soft, etc.) will the condition or behavior be viewed by the officer as not indicating use or impairment.

Many of the symptoms, characteristics, or behaviors can in fact be caused by alcohol or drug use and can in fact indicate drug or alcohol impairment. But there often are potential causes other than drug or alcohol use that should be considered in assessing whether there is any actual impairment caused by drugs or alcohol. Some examples of potential "indicators" are listed below.

If you are facing criminal charges relating to alleged drug or alcohol use, consumption, or possession, it is vital that you have the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Examples from the Goldilocks Zone

Speech - Rapid speech and slow speech can both be potential indicators of drug or alcohol use. Similarly, the contrasting characteristics of loud speech and soft speech can sometimes be used as an indicator of drug or alcohol impairment. When speaking, remember to be not too loud and not too soft, not to fast and not too slow. Keep the speed and volume of your speech in the just-right Goldilocks zone.

Behavior - Behavior that appears agitated or anxious as well as behavior that presents as depressed or sullen can both sometimes serve as a basis for supporting a claim of alcohol or drug impairment. An aggressive or belligerent attitude and also an overly-friendly attitude are both sometimes cited by police as indicators of drug or alcohol impairment. Overly-animated behavior or lethargic, drowsy behavior are all sometimes viewed as indicators of impairment. To reduce the risk of being accused of being impaired by alcohol or drug use, be sure to behave in a manner that is not too passive and not too aggressive, not too animated and not too lethargic, not too friendly and not too belligerent, and, of course, do not let yourself appear too agitated and anxious or too sullen and depressed. Keep your behavior and demeanor in that just-right Goldilocks zone.

Facial Features - Facial features and muscles that become too relaxed can indicate drug or alcohol impairment, as can facial features and muscles that are too tense. Perhaps the toughest indicator to exercise conscious control over is pupil size. Pupils that are constricted or pupils that are dilated can both potentially support a claim of alcohol or drug impairment. Avoid letting your face be too relaxed or too tense, and hope that your pupils find a way to keep themselves not too big and not too small.

Finding the Right Attorney

Defending DUI and Drug or Alcohol Charges in UtahIf you can look just right, talk just right, and behave just right, you just might avoid being charged with an offense related to alcohol or drug use or impairment. But if you do find yourself facing criminal charges, contact us today to see how our criminal defense team can help you. See the difference the right attorney can make.

We are pleased to assist clients along the Wasatch Front and throughout Utah in drug- and alcohol-related cases, including felony and misdemeanor DUI, automobile homicide (DUI-related), DUI (alcohol), DUI (metabolite or drug), drug possession and other drug charges, alcohol possession/consumption by a minor, open container, and many more. Our experienced team of Utah criminal defense lawyers has extensive experience defending individuals who are facing aggressive prosecution at the misdemeanor and felony level, and in the district courts and justice courts throughout the state.


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah Expungement Lawyer 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.
  • Recent Posts
  • What Constitutes Drug Parpahernalia in Utah How is drug paraphernalia defined in Utah? - The definition of drug paraphernalia under the Utah criminal code looks at both the nature of the object and also the intended use of the object in question. . . .
  • 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 Criminal Defense Strategy

You want the best defense. Agressive is good. But results ultimately are what really matter. Creating an effective strategy for defending against criminal prosecution requires a thorough understanding of statutes, case law, and evidentiary and procedural rules. A successful outcome is more likely when....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

With decades of combined experience, our criminal defense team attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and determination to help you achieve the results you need. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. Choosing the best attorney to defend your case may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences in Utah Criminal Prosecutions

Jail time, prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and the lifetime collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record - all of these and more are at stake when you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah. Understanding what is at risk is critical. Even so-called "minor" misdemeanor cases can have serious consequences....

Consequences »
Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah - Reasons to Hope

Clients sometimes ask what the "worst case scenario" is for their charges. We prefer to take a more positive approach. Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can have serious consequences. But you can take steps and make choices right now that will improve your chances of a positive outcome. Let us help you....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

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

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.