First DUI in Utah and its Impact on the Driver License Hearing

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You have just bailed out of jail after your DUI arrest. You are trying to figure out what to do. You have never been in trouble before, never gone to jail. You recall with some regret that you had some alcohol or some other substance and that you were stopped by a police officer for what seemed a trivial reason. All you know right now is that you are in trouble and justifiably lost as to the best course of action to take. You look at your DUI ticket. You notice that the upper left hand corner has information regarding the criminal court, in which you are to appear, “no sooner than 5 no later than 14 days after the issuance of the citation…” Then you recall, (if you are extremely fortunate) that the police officer took away your license and that the citation he gave you in return was to act as a temporary license for 29 days. You read the lower half of your ticket and it informs you that you can have a hearing to determine whether or not you continue to have a driving privilege (but only if you make a request in writing to the driver license division within 10 calendar days) If you fail to do this you will lose your privilege irrespective of your guilt or innocence.

So what does an accused person understand about this hearing? He knows he has to request a hearing within 10 calendar days. He might be able to deduce that this hearing has to occur with the 29 days his temporary license is valid…but what else? What kind of hearing is this going to be? What evidence is the hearing officer going to require from the police officer? How can the accused person get a copy of that evidence before the hearing? How can the accused person attack that evidence? What helpful evidence might the accused person present…if any? If you can’t answer any of these questions what kind of hearing can you expect? A hearing that simply rubber-stamps the suspension of your driver’s license.

Strangely, Utah law only requires that the accused person receive basic notice about his right to a hearing and gives the accused absolutely no right to receive the evidence the Driver License Division requires from the arresting officer. Unknown to the accused, the arresting officer also has a 10 day requirement to submit a report to the Division “a signed report in a manner specified by the division…” What is this “report?” Would a person understand its significance by researching the statute? No! The report referenced as “specified by the division…” is called the “DUI REPORT.”

The DUI REPORT is the blue print of the government’s case against the accused person. At the commencement of the hearing, hopefully requested by the accused person, the hearing officer will ask the officer to identify both the DUI citation by number and the DUI REPORT by case number and then lead the officer through the DUI REPORT he submitted within the required 10 day period. Imagine how helpless an accused would feel not even being able to see the DUI REPORT. How do you get the report prior to the hearing? You ask for it in writing from the Division at the same time you request the hearing. Strange and unfair that you would have to ask for the evidence that is going to be used against you at the hearing you are required to request? Absolutely!

What’s in the DUI REPORT? The DUI REPORT is going to detail: What first brought you to the officer’s attention, what traffic violation he observed justifying him stopping you, what were your initial statements, what was you speech and balance like, what physical disabilities you might have that would impact field sobriety tests, what field sobriety tests were given, how and under what conditions were the field sobriety tests administered, how were you graded on those tests, what admonitions were given prior to asking you to take the intoxilizer or other chemical test, whether or not he checked your mouth for foreign substances prior to having you blow in the intoxilizer, whether or not he had current certification for operating the intoxilizer system, whether the testing equipment had been tested and calibrated, whether or not you consented or refused, and how and when notice of the Division’s intent to suspend or revoke your license pursuant to this hearing was served.

The above details are not a complete list, but every one of those details would give an attorney skilled in DUI law an opportunity to win your hearing. A competent DUI attorney will want this report ASAP. He will want to go over it with you in detail before the hearing. He will want to find out if you have testimony that would be helpful. He will also want to find out if there is video that he can compare with the DUI REPORT. Many times the video, which can’t lie, doesn’t line up with the REPORT. Imagine how powerful that is! He will want the opportunity to cross examine the arresting officer under oath and fix his testimony at the Driver License Hearing before the criminal proceeding even starts. Any accused person who does not employ an attorney who is aggressively representing him at the Driver License Hearing is losing all realistic chances of winning the hearing and hamstringing his defense in the criminal case where more than just his license is at stake.