Utah DUI Process
For many, the legal process associated with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge can seem complicated. From the initial arrest to arraignment, there are numerous aspects that are confusing to those not familiar with the criminal justice system. That's why--in order to smoothly navigate the Utah DUI process--it is important to have a qualified defense lawyer on your side in order to fight your serious charges.
The Traffic Stop
The police cannot just pull you over for no reason--probable cause must exist. Therefore, unless you exhibit signs of intoxication--such as swerving or driving in two lanes--or commit another traffic offense, you cannot be stopped. In fact, if your lawyer finds that there is no probable cause, your charge could be dismissed.
During the traffic stop, the officer will begin a DUI investigation if he or she believes you are under the influence. This may include administering the field sobriety tests or looking for evidence, such as empty alcohol bottles or the smell of liquor on your breath. Once the officer has sufficient evidence, a DUI arrest can be made.
After you are arrested, you will be brought to the police station to take the official breathalyzer test. After that, you will be booked, fingerprinted and photographed. The police may attempt to interrogate you, but you should take note of whether or not your Miranda Rights were read, as you do have the right to an attorney during questioning. Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be bailed out right away or have to wait for a bail hearing.
At the arraignment, the presiding judge will read the DUI charges you are currently facing and ask how you plead. You have three options: guilty, not guilty, and no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, your court appearances are over and you may be sentenced. If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set.
Preliminary Hearings and the Trial
Before the trial, there will be a number of preliminary hearings where the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed and both attorneys can file pre-trial motions in an effort to have evidence suppressed during the trial.
If your case proceeds to trial, it may be heard by a jury and/or judge that will decide on a verdict. If you are found not guilty, you are done with the legal process. If, however, you are found guilty, you may have to return for sentencing.