Review of the DUI Laws in the State of Utah

Interviewer: You handle criminal defense, and you also handle bankruptcy cases. What made you migrate more toward DUI over the past two years?

Attorney Koehler Finds DUI Defense Interestingly Complex

Court: I really like doing DUIs because they have a scientific element to them that you don’t see in a lot of the other kinds of cases. With a DUI, typically, you’re going to have a breath test or a blood alcohol test of some sort. There’s a lot of science involved in that and there’s actually a lot of room to argue whether or not those tests are accurate. You also have the scientific underpinning of the field sobriety tests that the officers do. There are many medical factors that have to be taken into consideration with those tests.

When you have other criminal charges, it’s typically just a whodunit. You might have a burglary and there would be a witness that said they saw somebody and the whole question is whether or not the police have arrested the right person or what were the items taken. With a DUI, typically it’s not an identity issue. The police pulled over this person and the question is sort of subjective as to whether or not they were actually too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. I find that pretty interesting.

DUI Isn’t Limited to One Demographic

Interviewer:  Are your DUI clients mostly male or are they female? Are they older? Is there a particular demographic involved with DUI?

Court: I think another thing that’s different about DUI is that it isn’t a crime limited to one type of person. You see a large cross-section of people that are charged with DUI. Anybody might get one just by having a little too much to drink and deciding to drive.

In my practice I have encountered older people, young people, and college kids. It might be your neighbor that lives down the street. It could be really anybody. It tends to be more men than women, for some reason. That could possibly be due to the fact that men drive more than women. But truly, I have handled cases for all kinds of different people.

How Common Are Drug-Related DUIs?

Interviewer: Usually, people talk about alcohol, but what about illegal drugs or prescription drugs? Do you see cases involving drug-related DUI arrests?

Court: Yes. It’s less common, but there are instances involving drugs instead of alcohol. In Utah, it’s called DUI metabolite. Basically, the way it works is if you have the metabolite of any kind of a drug, whether it’s an illegal drug or a prescription drug, in your system that affects the way you’re operating a motor vehicle, you can be found guilty of a DUI metabolite.

The penalties are basically the same as for alcohol, but I have seen some drug-related cases involving marijuana. I have also seen some involving prescription drugs, such as Ambien.

By Court Koehler

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