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What You Should Do If You Get a DUI in the State of Utah

Posted by attorney Michael Edwards

What do you do if you get arrested for DUI in the State of Utah? As with most problems in life, the only sensible thing to do is face the problem head-on, and do what damage-control you can. Here is a simple to-do list that will help you organize your response to this difficult, intimidating, and stressful situation.

  1. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), pay the $330.00 impound fee, and get the release to get your vehicle out of impound. Don't bother trying to get your vehicle out of the impound/tow lot without the DMV release, it will not work. Here is a ray of hope: if you win the driver license hearing (see paragraph six, below), you will get this $330.00 back.

  2. Go to the impound/tow lot, pay the impound and tow fee, and get your vehicle out of impound. You should do this ASAP. Each day your vehicle is impounded will cost an additional impound storage fee.

  3. Go to the Driver License Division office, fill-out and submit a request for hearing within 10 calendar days of your arrest. If you fail to do this, you will lose your driver license automatically at 12:01 a.m. on the 30th day after your arrest. The length of your suspension or revocation depends on whether this is your first or subsequent DUI offense within the past 10 years, whether you are under the age of 21, and whether or not you submitted to the breath, blood, or urine test requested by the arresting officer, deputy, or trooper. Possible suspension or revocation durations range from 120 days (or until you are 21 years old, whichever is longer) to three (3) years. Remember, the 10 day rule is strict. If you file your hearing request even one (1) day late, the Driver License Division will deny you a hearing.

  4. Have an initial consultation with an attorney who is experienced in DUI defense, and decide whether or not you are going to retain or hire an attorney to represent you through this difficult process. Most DUI defense attorneys will give you an initial consultation for a very reasonable price, if not for free. At the very least, this consultation will help you understand the process better, so you can deal with it better. If you do hire an attorney, they should be: reasonably priced; easy to talk to; responsive; proactive; well-acquainted with the judge and prosecutor in your court; very knowledgeable about DUI law and procedures; and someone you are comfortable having in your corner. One of the advantages of hiring an attorney is that you can then let him/her walk you through this process, and have less to worry about yourself. If you want to consult with me, please see the contact information below, or see one of my websites: or

  5. If you decide NOT to hire an attorney, you need to call the court your case is in about seven (7) calendar days after you are arrested, and arrange to appear in court for your arraignment. Don't call much earlier than this, because the court probably will not have your citation filed yet. Every court handles this process a bit differently, but the court clerk will probably either set an appointment for you to come to the court for your arraignment, or tell you when the court holds "open court" sessions, when you can appear and be arraigned.

  6. Within about 10 days after you requested the driver license hearing in writing, you should receive a notice of hearing in the mail. If you have not retained an attorney to represent you, you need to prepare for and attend this hearing at the date, time, and place set in the hearing notice. The hearing is an informal adjudicative proceeding. This means that the trooper, deputy, or officer will testify under oath, and you will have an opportunity to cross-examine or question him or her. Then you will have an opportunity to testify and/or present other evidence on your behalf. The hearing officer will then give you a chance to make arguments as to why you think the hearing officer should not suspend or revoke your driver license. A word of caution here: don't bother telling the hearing officer that you will be placed in a hardship by having your license suspended. They simply cannot base their decision on facts like that. They are simply there to decide: whether the trooper, deputy, or officer had probable cause to arrest you for DUI; and whether it is more likely than not that you were DUI, which can be proven in several ways, which you should discuss with the attorney you consult with. Here's the good news: if the trooper, deputy, or officer does not show-up or call-in for the hearing, you win automatically! The driver license division will typically mail a written decision to you within seven to 10 days of your hearing. If you win the hearing, you will be able to obtain a refund of the $330.00 impound fee you paid under step one, above.

  7. Be sure to attend your arraignment on the time and date set by the Court, if you have not retained an attorney by this point. Plead not guilty at the arraignment, and the court will set your case for a pre-trial conference. That is your chance to meet with the prosecutor, to try to resolve your case. If you cannot settle the case at the pre-trial conference, the next step is to proceed to a jury trial. It is not recommended that you proceed to trial without the assistance of a trained and experienced trial attorney, like me.

Nothing set forth herein is intended to be legal advice. This should also not be used to substitute for personal legal advice from an experienced DUI defense attorney. The intent of this posting is to give you an idea of what needs to be done to effectively control the damage you will sustain because of your arrest for DUI. If you would like to discuss this posting, feel free to call Mike Edwards at 801-704-3444, or send an email to:

Additional resources provided by the author

See the DUI code at, under Utah Code Annotated Section 41-61-502, et seq.

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