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Utah Arrests

Utah Sees Major Drug Busts

Salt Lake City Drug Crime Defense Lawyer reported on March 30 that Salt Lake City police officers seized almost 330,000 doses of drugs in 2016, an astonishing 82 percent increase from the previous year. An officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department told KSL, “We’ve got people coming from not just around the valley, but all over the adjoining counties because it’s so easy to buy dope here.”

Dope can be slang for just about any illegal drug. It seems as though Utah has had no shortage of major arrests involving controlled substances in recent months.

On March 23, the Desert News reported that Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) troopers stopped a vehicle on Interstate 80 and found 100 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags a mere two days after holding a press conference to talk about the unusually high quantities of drugs that UHP troopers were finding on the road. Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Salas said at the news conference that the approximately 110 pounds of methamphetamine seized over the course of two weeks was “about double what we historically seize in the first two months of a year.”

The St. George News reported on February 13 that Garland Police, the Tremonton Police Department, and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office seized than 36 pounds of methamphetamine with a reported street value estimated of over $500,000 “sealed in food jars to hide the contents” just off Interstate 15 in northern Utah. KSTU-TV reported last November that a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation resulted in the discovery of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit opioid tablets and nearly $1 million in cash as part of an alleged pill manufacturing operation in Cottonwood Heights that was one of the largest drug busts in Utah history.

KSTU also reported on March 28 that a 19-year-old Oregon man was pulled over for driving on the walking path in Hobble Creek Canyon, and a subsequent search of the man’s vehicle resulted in the seizure of 727 ecstasy pills, 2 grams of cocaine, 8 vials of LSD, 47 grams of marijuana, 12 Xanax pills, 22 grams of dab (synthetic marijuana or marijuana hash oil), and $1,120 in cash. The quantities totaled more than 2,200 individual doses of drugs with a street value of approximately $25,000.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office believed the man intended to sell drugs at the Holi Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork that weekend. The man was charged with six counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, three counts of endangering a child, one count of driving with a measurable controlled substance in the body, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of driving on the sidewalk. The man was accompanied by three juveniles—a boy and two girls—who were cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia before the mother of one of the girls drove to Utah and took all three juveniles back to Oregon, according to KTSU.

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The staggering number of drug arrests in Utah not only illustrates how prevalent controlled substances are in the Salt Lake City area, but also how authorities continue to investigate and enforce drug laws. Rest assured, these types of cases remain a major issue for law enforcement agencies all over the Beehive State.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said the jail restrictions implemented by Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder in 2016 intended to help reduce overcrowding at the local jail led to an increase in the number of drug-related offenses and overdose deaths shot in Salt Lake City in 2016. “I think it’s way too early, and frankly impossible, to tell if a single policy about misdemeanor booking restrictions can so affect crime rates,” Winder told the Tribune.

Even simple possession of controlled substance offenses can be classified as felonies in certain cases. When a person is accused of having intent to distribute a controlled substance or is charged with drug trafficking, prosecutors will aggressively seek maximum penalties.

Whether you are a resident of Utah or a visitor from another state or country, any kind of drug-related arrest can create a significant number of legal issues that carry very serious long-term consequences. You should always try not to say anything to police without legal representation.

It is in your best interest to contact a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to receive a thorough review of your case. Criminal charges could be reduced or dismissed if law enforcement officers violated your constitutional rights during any search or seizure relating to a controlled substance.

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Utah Becomes First State to Lower BAC Limit to 0.05

Utah was the first state to lower the legal limit for blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) when driving from 0.10 to 0.08 in 1983, so perhaps it is not terribly surprising that the Beehive State appears poised to become the first state to once again further lower the limits. On March 23, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill (HB) 155, effectively reducing the BAC limits for driving under the influence (DUI) and other criminal offenses from 0.08 to 0.05.

The move comes nearly four years after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the states reduce the allowable BAC to 0.05. All 50 states in the nation and the District of Columbia adopted the 0.08 standard after then-President Bill Clinton signed a law in 2000 that withheld federal highway funds from states that did not comply.

The New York Times noted in 2013 that the “standard in most of the industrialized world is 0.05 percent,” but The Hill reported that same year of the NTSB push that states showed little interest in revisiting the hot-button issue, industry groups lined up against the plan, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) declined to endorse the NTSB recommendations.

Governor Herbert faced similar pressure from groups lobbying against the bill. Restaurant and hospitality groups such as the Utah Restaurant Association and the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association urged the governor to veto the bill, and the American Beverage Institute (ABI) took out this full-page ad in USA Today and Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers opposing the bill:

Salt Lake City DUI Lawyer

According to the Times, government statistics show that people with a BAC of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, while individuals with BACs of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely. Restaurant and hospitality groups were not only fearful about possible decreases in alcohol consumption and tourism because of a decreased BAC threshold, but the industry was also dealing with expected increases in the price of liquor because of the governor signing HB 442, which would tear down the so-called “Zion Curtains” in restaurants and overhaul other parts of Utah liquor laws.

Salt Lake City DUI Attorney

While it will remain to be seen what effect lowering BAC limits has on the reduction in traffic fatalities in Utah, we are probably more likely to see an increase in the number of DUI arrests in the Beehive State when HB 155 takes effect on December 30, 2018. According to MADD, about one-third of all individuals arrested or convicted for drunk driving are repeat offenders.

Men who weigh 240 pounds or less could be considered legally intoxicated in Utah if they consume three alcoholic beverages in one hour. A woman who weighs less than 180 pounds can have a BAC of 0.05 or higher after only two alcoholic drinks consumed in an hour. A woman who weighs 100 pounds or less could reach the 0.05 BAC limit after a single drink.

Many people arrested for DUI for the first time in Utah often claim that they did not realize how intoxicated they were. When the state BAC limit is lowered to 0.05, there will likely be even more people who feel as though they passed field sobriety tests and did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of intoxication but were arrested for DUI after blowing 0.05 or higher.

ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell called Governor Herbert’s decision to sign HB 155 “a sad day for Utah.” “Governor Herbert’s decision to sign Utah’s .05 legislation will not only harm the people of Utah, but cripple their restaurant and tourism industries,” Longwell said in a statement. “A 120 pound woman can now have little more than a single drink before being subject to arrest, $10,000 in fines, attorney fees, increased insurance costs, and the social stigma of being labeled a “drunk driver”—which will lead many to forgo that glass of wine with dinner.”

KSTU-TV reported that if a special session is called, “lawmakers could water down HB155 to delay when it becomes effective and its overall impact if someone is ever arrested with a .05 BAC.” For the time being, residents and visitors should plan on being even more cautious than usual when consuming alcohol in Utah.

If you are charged with DUI anywhere in Salt Lake County, you should know that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. An experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer can review every aspect of your traffic stop and arrest to determine whether any police error or oversight could lead to criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.

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Five Things Tourists Should Know if Arrested in Utah

Salt Lake CityLate last month, a 19-year-old man was arrested in Florida for his alleged role in the March killing of a convenience store clerk in Murray. Roughly one week later, two men were arrested in Colorado for the alleged kidnapping, forgery, and exploitation of a vulnerable adult in South Salt Lake. All three of these alleged offenders were awaiting extradition to Utah after being taken into custody.

While the nature of these crimes garnered media attention, people should understand that alleged out of state offenders facing many other types of more common criminal charges in Utah are also extradited to the Beehive State when they are apprehended in other states. People who may be visiting the Salt Lake City area on vacation, business, or traveling through the state for other reasons cannot assume that arrests for offenses such as driving under the influence (DUI) or possession of a controlled substance will just be forgotten and languish in Utah courts.

If you have been arrested in the greater Salt Lake City area while visiting from another state, here are five things you should know about the charges you face:

  1. Arrest warrants issued in Utah are valid in other states — While a criminal case can only be tried within the jurisdiction that the offense occurred, a bench warrant that is issued following your failure to appear can lead to you being arrested by any law enforcement agency that learns of the warrant. This means that if you pulled over for a minor traffic infraction in your state of residence, a police officer could take you into custody based solely on that Utah warrant.
  2. Extradition applies in all 50 states — As stated above, people whom the state of Utah deem fugitives from justice can be extradited from other states to face punishment in the Beehive State. Title 18 United States Code § 3182 requires all states to deliver fugitives from justice for any crimes to the states from which they fled.
  3. There is no statute of limitations — Do not think that if you stay out of trouble in your home state for a certain number of year that the criminal charges will just go away. Utah Code § 76-1-304(1) plainly states, “The period of limitation does not run against any defendant during any period of time in which the defendant is out of the state following the commission of an offense.”
  4. A bounty hunter could be looking for you — If you were released from prison through a bail bond company and failed to appear in court, then the bail bond company is usually on the hook for a large sum of money. These companies typically employ licenses bail enforcement agents (commonly referred to as “bounty hunters”) to locate and apprehend people who have jumped bail. There may be limitations on what these agents can do depending on the state that you live in, but they can generally enter your property without a warrant if they feel that you are a flight risk and rest assured that they certainly have the financial incentive to bring you to justice.
  5. Hiring a Utah attorney can easily help you avoid all of these troubles — Many people fail to appear in court simply because they believe their residence in another state excuses their absence. While not living in Utah can indeed make the prospect of repeated court appearances quite a hassle, these appearances are not always necessary. A Salt Lake City criminal lawyer can appear on your behalf and possibly resolve your case without you having to arrange any flight tickets.
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