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Federal judge okay with charging sober driver with DUI

A Utah woman made national news when she was pulled over and subsequently charged with DUI after having a single low-alcohol beer at lunch in 2016. Despite the fact that she did not slur her words nor were her eyes bloodshot, Snyderville police claimed she smelled of alcohol and administered a roadside test, which the officer said she failed. She was arrested, put in handcuffs and taken in for a blood sample, which was eventually found to be .01.

Facing charges without evidence

The case proceeded without blood or breath test results, which many will say is against federal and state law. Because the defendant was forced to hire an attorney and defend herself in court before the results of the test were issued, she attempted to sue Summit County for opening a prosecution two and a half months before the test results came back.

Courts back police

A three-judge Appellate Court panel rejected the suit, ruling that the burden for proof for administering a test is much lower than determining if someone is guilty of DUI. Thus, it allowed the case to proceed on the strength of the police’s reasonable suspicion, which was corroborated by the defendant’s admission of having a single beer. The court also gave immunity to officers and prosecution willing to press charges.

Strong defense is always crucial to protecting rights

The case was obviously resolved once the blood tests came back, but it illustrates the trouble that occurs from a simple traffic stop. It also shows what happens when you volunteer information to an officer.

The good news is that the courts dismissed the case. However, this woman had to endure the expense and stress of the legal battle before she was proven innocent. Despite the judge’s rulings, attorneys can protect the rights of the defendant throughout this process, ensuring that defendants remain innocent until proven guilty.

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