What Happens During a DUI Arrest in Utah?

This may be the most important information you can know as a driver.  

Your rights when detained by police for a DUI. When people contact me after they have been arrested for a DUI or boating equivalent, it’s too late for this advice.  

In Utah, and I cannot give advice for any other state, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI for being in “actual physical control” of an “operable motor vehicle.” So, falling asleep with the engine running will still result in a DUI if you are impaired or over the legal limit.  

Utah has the lowest legal alcohol limit measured in breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05, of any state in the USA. Utah also has extremely harsh penalties for a DUI or boating DUI. The Driver License Division (DLD) gets to try to suspend your license administratively after your arrest, and you only have 10 days to file a written request for a DLD hearing, or you will not get a hearing, and the agency will proceed on the citation to suspend your driving privileges for 120 days on a first offense.  

Even if your driver's license is from a different state, Utah will assign you a number and then suspend it, send notice to your home state, and they will suspend you pursuant to the Interstate Compact for driver license enforcement. So, winning this hearing is vital to saving your license.  

After you are arrested and processed, it’s too late to know this essential information that all drivers should know before they hit the road in Utah. You do NOT have to perform standard or other field sobriety tests. Do not do it, you will not pass, and you end up giving evidence to support your own arrest. In Utah, you do NOT have to do the eye test, the walk and turn test, the one leg raise test, or the modified tests on boats with your fingers while seated. Don’t do them. Be polite but decline to perform any of these tests.  

However, AFTER you are arrested, and you will be even if you decline the field sobriety tests, you will know you have been arrested because that is when the handcuffs go on, the officer will read to you an “Admonition” to take a chemical test, could be breath, or blood, or both. YOU MUST submit to this chemical test, or you will end up losing your driver license for much, much longer, and now that you are under arrest, the same probable cause that the officer determined was enough to arrest you, is also enough to get a warrant from a judge to draw your blood.  

The biggest mistake anyone can make is to perform field sobriety tests, then refuse the chemical test after arrest. You just gave the police officers the probable cause to arrest you when you failed the tests (trust me, you failed), and drew a huge license suspension for not submitting to the chemical test, as required by law. See Utah Code 41-6a-520 for the Implied Consent Law, which only kicks in AFTER arrest. Field tests are before the arrest, and you don’t have to do them. So don’t.  

More on driver license hearings and DUI arrests next time…. 

If you have been arrested for a DUI in St. George or within Southern Utah, call Edward D. Flint at (435) 740-8460 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. With more than 33 years of criminal defense experience, I have personally handled 100+ jury trials!