If you're convicted of pleading guilty to the possession of illegal drugs, marijuana, or otherwise, or possession of paraphernalia in Utah, you can lose your license in addition to possible fines and counseling.
People will usually call up after pleading guilty to one of these charges, and complain that they were just notified by the Division of Public Safety of the loss of their license. Most of the time, but not always, something can be done to overturn the conviction, depending on timing, facts, and jurisdiction.
Avoid converting DUI into disaster:
A DUI might be a downturn, but not making the right decisions afterward can make things worse. DUI is never a great experience, that's why it’s crucial to take steps towards making the right decisions.
The morning after a DUI may be a time of regret, but it is also the time to pick yourself up, as you have always done, and choose to make the best out of a bad situation.
You can be convicted of DUIs based on drugs, prescribed or otherwise. When you
only have lawfully prescribed meds in your system, the question becomes have those drugs made you too impaired to safely operate a vehicle.
Usually, blood is drawn if the officer suspects meds, but they really need to know what to look for in the blood to find it. Volunteering this information is not a good idea and is considered testimony. Therefore, you are protected by your right to remain silent. Remember that.
Many officers and prosecutors jump to the conclusion that drugs are the culprit, as soon as they find that they may be involved. However, based on statistics, fatigue, distracted driving, inclement weather, and excessive speed all play as great or greater role in causing accidents than does alcohol or drug involvement.
When any of these things are present, it's better to stay away from or get off the road. Know your limits and your medication limits and ensure that they are not interfering with your ability to drive safely.
Prescribed drugs and DUIs:
Can prescribed drugs found in the driver’s system establish a basis for a DUI charge and the possibility of a conviction? They’re prescribed and therefore legal, correct? Correct, but so is the intake of alcohol, if you are of age.
The answer is: Yes, a DUI can rely on only legally prescribed medications in the system, if the required level of impairment, due to those drugs, can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt.
The important point is whether, due to the prescribed medication or the alcohol, the driver is “too impaired to safely operate a vehicle” because of either or the combination of both. The prosecution must show both the impairment level and the causation of the substances to the impairment in order to prove their DUI charge.
It’s a little easier in the case of alcohol DUI, because of the presumptive level of .08, but even there, they have to show reasonable or probable cause of impairment to justify the arrest.
Of course, illness, physical limitations, fatigue, and other conditions must all be highlighted and taken into account.
Refusals and DUIs:
Many attorneys, for years, have recommended refusing the breathalyzer, blood test, or chemical test, when it comes to a DUI arrest, and many drivers have heeded this advice, as it has turned into urban lore.
Nowadays, with electronic warrants available within mere minutes from judges, and with almost all departments having immediately available phlebotomists (a person certified to draw blood), it makes little sense to refuse.
If there is a refusal, and the hearing on the refusal is lost, the driver’s license is suspended for 18 months rather than 4 months on the first action in 10 years and much longer on a second action within 10 years.
Hence, refusals carry a significant penalty on the license, and in a very high percentage of the cases, law enforcement gets what they wanted and needed for the DUI anyway!
Refusal hearings can and are won by lawyers with sufficient experience, but the exposure is not worth the risk, since, again, most of the time, the officer gets a blood or drug alcohol reading anyway.
It must be pointed out that a driver can refuse field sobriety tests or a preliminary breath test (PBT) without it being the kind of refusal I’m talking about here.
If the officer has formally requested a blood alcohol test in the form of breathalyzer, blood or urine, following a lawful arrest, along with an admonition advising of the effect of the results of that test, then the refusal penalties may apply.
The bottom line: know the true exposure before the refusal, or take the test.
You may be able to use the expungement avenue provided by statute to rid yourself of that mistake you made years ago.
The whole process can take time, so if you’re thinking about it, at least check into it now to see if your record qualifies.
The result of a successful expungement can clear your record and seal any access to charges, arrests, and convictions, which you may have undergone in the past. This may open up job opportunities, and who knows, satisfy political ambitions.
But, if you wait until you’re in trouble again, it is probably too late to qualify. See an attorney to determine your eligibility. No one should have to live with their past forever if there is an avenue to expunge it.
The most common question I get concerning traffic tickets is, if it’s just $150, why not just pay it, especially when attorney fees would be more?
But, that question never comes from someone who has paid attention to their insurance bill after they or someone in their family has been convicted of a traffic violation. The increased rates paid on insurance premiums because of that traffic violation will often result in paying that fine or attorney’s fee many times over.
And far more often than not, there are solutions to keep that violation from going on the driving record. So, next time you think about just sending the check in to the court, look for an alternative.