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Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Will my driver license be suspended for a drug charge?

In addition to penalties imposed by the court, the Utah Driver License Division may suspend the driver license of a person convicted of a criminal drug offense. Avoiding a conviction completely is the best way to avoid a driver license suspension. But in the event that a drug conviction cannot be completely avoided, there are some exceptions which can allow a defendant to keep a driver license.

Seeking the assistance of an experienced drug crimes defense attorney can be the best way to achieve a positive outcome in any criminal or drug case. Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has handled thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases during his career. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

What exceptions must be met to avoid a driver license suspension for a Utah drug conviction?

Motor Vehicle Involvement - In 2015, the Utah legislature amended the law affecting driver license suspensions for drug crimes. Prior to this amendment, in order to avoid a license suspension, the criminal court first had to enter an order finding that the drug offense "did not involve a motor vehicle."

Salt Lake Drug Defense AttorneyThis provision of the law was generally interpreted broadly. A drug offense was considered to "involve a motor vehicle" if drugs were found in the possession of either the driver or any passenger, or if drugs were found anywhere in a motor vehicle, including the passenger compartment, glove box, or trunk.

Under the prior version of the law, the court was required to forward a record of the drug conviction to the Driver License Division (DLD) and DLD was required to suspend the defendant’s driver license unless the court found that the “the violation did not involve a motor vehicle.”  This broad provision covered drivers as well as passengers. Thus, any person in the vehicle who was convicted of a drug charge could face a license suspension.

Under the 2015 amendment to the statute, the court may choose not to forward the record of conviction to DLD if it finds that the defendant “was not an operator of a motor vehicle at the time of the violation.” Thus, a passenger may not face a mandatory suspension based on a drug-related conviction.

Substance Abuse Counseling or Probation - If the record of conviction is forwarded to the DLD (mandatory for the driver, but optional for a passenger), the defendant may still avoid a mandatory driver license suspension by participating in drug treatment or substance abuse counseling. The defendant must provide proof to the court that he or she is either currently participating in or has completed treatment or counseling through a state licensed and approved substance abuse treatment provider. Alternatively, the defendant may avoid the license suspension if the court places the defendant on probation under the supervision of Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P).

Finding a Drug Crimes Lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah

With a practice based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has successfully defended drug charges ranging from simple marijuana possession to complex drug distribution cases. As a Utah criminal defense attorney with a record of successfully protecting his clients rights, Mr. Howard is prepared to defend even the most serious cases.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

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  • 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.
  • 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 Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
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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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