A Utah Highway Patrol officer was recently accused of falsifying DUI arrests throughout her 10-year career. The suit claims that the officer arrested drivers who either had not been drinking or had not consumed enough to impair their driving.
Although drivers passed field sobriety tests, the officer made arrests alleging that regardless of their performance they were still impaired. She claimed the drivers were in violation of Utah state law by operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The officer would then issue DUI charges, or driving under the influence.
Many of the charges resulting from the officer’s arrests were ultimately dropped or reduced.
DUI laws in Utah
In Utah, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level, or BAC, over 0.08. A driver can be arrested with a lower blood or breath alcohol level if their ability to safely operate the vehicle is impaired. Penalties associated with a first time conviction can include a minimum:
- Two days in jail
- 48 hours community service
- $700 monetary fines
- 90 days driver suspension
Penalties can increase in severity under various circumstances. This can include the presence of a minor in the vehicle or if the impaired driver causes an accident that leads to injuries to others. Penalties also increase with repeat offenses.
Impact of DUI conviction
DUI convictions are costly. A recent report by Money Magazine estimated a typical DUI conviction could result in over $10,000 in fees. This estimate included the cost of bail, fines and fees as well as insurance increases. Insurance rates could raise as much as four times the amount paid prior to the conviction. Some companies will even drop the driver from the policy completely while others may remove the driver from the original policy and transfer him or her to a higher-risk plan.
In addition to hurting one’s wallet, a DUI can appear on a person’s criminal record. As a result, those with a DUI conviction can have difficulties finding employment and housing.
Due to the wide reaching negative impact of a DUI conviction, those charged with a drunken driving crime should take the charges seriously. There may be circumstances that could lead to dropping or reducing the charge, such as the case mentioned above. As a result, it is important to contact an experienced Utah drunk driving lawyer to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.