In Utah, the process of successfully fighting a DUI charge is far more complicated than most other criminal charges. The reason why fighting a DUI charge in Utah is so difficult is because you have to be able to successfully challenge the State’s evidence against you in two separate arenas, the Justice or District Court and the Driver License Division administrative hearing.
In Utah, if you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Measurable amount of a Controlled Substance (DUI) and have no previous DUI convictions, the Driver License Division will automatically suspend your license for 120 days, unless you request a Driver License DUI Hearing within 10 days of being arrested.
If you, or your attorney, request a Driver License DUI Hearing within 10 days of your arrest, the Driver License Division will schedule an administrative hearing to be held no later than 29 days after the date of your arrest. At the administrative hearing, the hearing officer must find that there were reasonable grounds (“Probable Cause”), based upon the arresting officer’s testimony, to believe that you were not only operating, or in actual physical control of, the vehicle at the time of the arrest but you were also doing so in violation of Utah’s DUI statute. Since the DLD hearing is civil in nature, and not a criminal proceeding, the DLD hearing officer merely has to determine that the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or a measurable about of a controlled substance in order to suspend your license for 120 days.
According to the annual DUI Report to the Utah Legislature, the DLD conducted 5,070 hearings in 2012. However, out of the 5,070 hearings that the DLD conducted, only 789¹ of those hearing resulted in No Action being taken against the charged individual’s driver’s license.
In Utah, if you have been arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Measurable amount of a Controlled Substance (DUI), the Court will schedule a time for you to appear in front of a Judge to be arraigned. At an Arraignment Hearing, the Judge will present you with an Information Statement that details the crimes that the State of Utah is charging you with and the basis for those charges. After you have had a chance to review the Information Statement, the Judge will require you to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty before the Court.
At this point, if you plead guilty, the Court will schedule a Sentencing Hearing. Under Utah law, the Court must sentence you no sooner than two days and no more than 45 days following your guilty plea. If you choose, you can waive the minimum period and be sentenced at the time you enter your guilty plea.
However, if you plead not guilty, the Court will set the matter for a Pre-Trial Conference. At a pre-trial conference, your attorney and the Prosecutor for the State will attempt to negotiate a settlement of the case. Usually, it is at this stage where your attorney will be able to negotiate the best possible plea bargain for you.
If the Prosecutor is not willing to offer you a favorable plea bargain, the case will go forward to trial and either a Judge or a Jury will find you guilty or not guilty.