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Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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"Actual Physical Control" - West Jordan Utah DUI Attorney

According to Utah DUI law, a person can be charged with drunk driving even if he or she is not actually driving a vehicle.  Even a person doesn't ever drive a vehicle, charges can be filed if the person is in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while intoxicated.  The term "actual physical control" has been interpreted broadly by the Utah Court of Appeals in the case of State v. Barnhart, 850 P.2d 473 (Utah Ct. App. 1993).

The Utah Court of Appeals stated that the legislature "intended to prevent intoxicated persons from causing harm by apprehending them before they operate a vehicle"  The court also stated 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."

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

Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending DUI's and other crimes in Utah. His track record speaks for itself.  With offices based in Salt Lake City, he is pleased to serve clients throughout Utah.

If you are facing DUI charges in West Jordan or anywhere in Utah, contact criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard to schedule an initial consultation today.


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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.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Expungement - Worked to restore client's expungement eligibility through 402 reduction process, then filed successful expungement petitions in multiple courts obtaining expungement orders and clearing client's official criminal history.
  • 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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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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