What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Having An Underage DUI Charge?
When we’re talking about a minor and the juvenile court system, there are two different records that we have to take into consideration. One is the actual juvenile court proceeding. It’s not a conviction, it’s an adjudication, and those adjudications aren’t reported to the FBI or anything like that. Those adjudications stay right in the juvenile court. A year or so or after you turn 18, you can have them expunged.
The other record we have to consider is the driving record. If the Driver’s License Division took action –meaning they found after a hearing that the minor was in violation of the DUI laws or the court sent a suspension to the Driver’s License Division – then that will still be on their driving record even if they have the minor expungement hearing in the juvenile court.
If they were charged with a subsequent DUI, the Driver’s License Division would still consider that a second offense. The long-term consequences as far as the juvenile court is concerned are not too bad, because they’re not really reported anywhere. Someone would have to go to that specific juvenile court to get a record of that. However, the driving record is another matter. If they were to apply for a job and the potential employer pulled the driving record, they would see that some action was taken for a DUI, so that could be detrimental to them. That’s why it’s important to hire an attorney in order to get the best possible outcome.
What Possible Defenses Can Be Used To Defend Against Underage DUI Charges In Utah?
There are several defenses that could be used for DUI for someone under 21 in Utah. One of the defenses we would look at is whether the officer had a legal reason to make a traffic stop. The reason for the stop is usually for an equipment violation or a traffic infraction. We would check the legality of the stop and make sure it was justified, and then we would get into the issue of why the officer made the traffic stop into a DUI investigation. The officer has to have reasonable grounds like the odor of alcohol, the admission of consuming alcohol, or something along those lines. The officer has to be able to articulate why he asked the driver about drugs or alcohol.
After that, we would look at the DUI investigation itself, including the standard field sobriety tests. They have to have either probable cause or a warrant to arrest someone, and typically they don’t have a warrant at that point so they’re looking at developing probable cause. They develop probable cause through the standard field sobriety tests such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and so on. The officer has to administer and interpret those tests correctly because he’s looking for information to develop probable cause. If the officer didn’t do that, then we can argue that the information that he obtained is not reasonable and so there wasn’t a legal arrest. Anyone of those can be used to get the case thrown out and the driver’s license returned.
Next, we would look at the actual evidence that they’ve obtained. Usually, this is evidence from a chemical test, a blood test or breath test. We would check to see that the evidence was lawfully obtained, that it was preserved correctly, that it was stored correctly, and that it was analyzed and interpreted correctly. If there’s a problem anywhere in those processes, that could be used as a defense for the case.
The DUI attorney’s job is to gather all of the information, do his own investigation, look for those possible errors or mistakes, and try to get the best possible outcome. That’s another reason it’s so important to seek counsel.
Is It Possible To Have An Underage DUI Charge Reduced To A Lesser Offense In Utah?
Yes, it is possible to have a DUI under 21 reduced in Utah. In most cases, even juvenile court cases, there’ll be a pretrial conference. That’s a meeting with the prosecutor to see if the case can be resolved, and one of those resolutions could be pleading to a lesser offense such as an impaired driving or reckless driving charge. Prosecutors frequently do this, and it can result in a good outcome for the case.
For more information on Handling Underage DUI Charges In Utah, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 477-5009 today.