Small Central Utah Town Setting Records in Drug DUI Arrests

The small, central Utah town of Richfield is setting records for its drug DUI arrests after being well-funded by the state of Utah to get impaired drivers off the street.

Small town – big reputations

Photo by: Ken Lund

Richfield City, the county seat of Sevier County, is smaller than 73 other cities in Utah but that doesn’t keep the town’s web page from boasting that it is: “. . . the hub of Central Utah, [and] the largest city for more than a hundred miles”. With a population of a mere 7,750 residents, nearby towns must be miniscule for Richfield to be able to possess that title. Being the largest town of central Utah is not the only reputation Richfield City has either; they also have a high arrest per resident ratio in regards to DUIs.

DUI rate vs Population

According to the Sixteenth Annual DUI Report to the Utah Legislature, throughout the state of Utah, “10,383 DUI-related arrests were made in FY 2018.” They also note that statewide (which includes larger cities such as those in the Salt Lake Valley) the DUI-related arrest rate is “33.5 per 10,000 population”. In pint-sized Richfield City, the amount of DUI arrests is roughly three times that of the entire statewide average.Some speculate that perhaps Richfield has such a high DUI rate due to the small town/big problems theory that no one has anything else to do besides get inebriated and drive around. In reality, there are several reason why Richfield is leading the pack with DUI arrests.

Combining factors

Photo by: 911 Bail Bonds Las Vegas

Although there’s a chance Richfield has some basic small town problems, one of them does not appear to be more individuals driving impaired. Somehow however, their officers are making more DUI arrests. A few reasons for this may include:

Type of DUI arrest. When people hear “DUI” their first thought is of people driving under the influence of alcohol. Utah Code 41-6A-502 states “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state if the person: . . . is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle”. The majority of the DUI arrests in Richfield city are not alcohol related. Drug DUI arrests in Richfield from substances such as marijuana, meth, and even prescription drugs are the main source of the town’s two-year DUI record. While alcohol leaves a person feeling tipsy and notably impaired, many drivers falsely assume they are okay to drive a couple hours after getting high or taking meds to manage their pain. A quick swab of the cheek or a blood test done later can confirm arresting officer’s suspicion of drug use prior to driving.

Location, location, location. Richfield is located along the I-70 corridor, a stretch of road linking Nevada to Utah and Utah to Colorado that is known for drug trafficking. Additionally, I-70 runs directly into I-15, another main artery of drug movement that travels from southern California through Vegas and all the way into Canada. The positioning of Richfield in close proximity to these dual drug trafficking corridors could increase the chances of local officers pulling over out-of-town traffickers for simple traffic violations. Additionally, Richfield officers may have a better chance at catching Utahns coming back from visiting marijuana friendly Colorado.

Focused intent. One of the top reasons Richfield may be leading the pack for drug DUI arrests is their focused intent on catching impaired drivers. Last year Richfield chose to focus less on finding drug users and instead put more emphasis on cracking down on those users when they got behind the wheel. Although the focus on DUIs may help keep people safer on Richfield roads, it just so happens to also result in greater incarceration rates than possession charges alone.

Photo by: 401(k) 2012

Financial recompense. Due to the rising DUI arrests as a result of Richfield’s focused intent on drug DUIs, the state of Utah has decided to allot (reward) money to Richfield which will help them keep the momentum going. This extra funding enables Richfield to allow select officers to work longer hours. It would not be surprising to find the overtime officers were drug recognition experts trained at spotting impaired drivers either. While Utah taxpayers may wonder where these extra funds allotted to this small town are coming from, it is the arrestees themselves paying for it as they pay to recover vehicles impounded during an arrest. Regardless of where the funds originate from, the extra money is likely a major motivator in bringing in higher DUI arrests.

Drug DUI attorney

Drug DUI arrests can result in criminal charges ranging from a class B misdemeanor for first-offenders to a third degree felony for repeat offenders or instances where a serious injury occurred.Anyone facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is encouraged to speak to an attorney regarding their options moving forward and how to best put their illegal action behind them. All other Utah residents should make certain they are not impaired in any way prior to getting behind the wheel – especially when visiting the small town of Richfield City, Utah.

Utah Police Chief Arrested for Prescription Drug DUI

A Utah police chief was arrested for prescription drug DUI after a highway patrol officer observed the chief driving recklessly north of the town of Manua.

Reckless driving

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On a late January evening, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Kent Goodrich observed a Manua police vehicle driving at a high rate of speed down the median of Highway 89. Goodrich pulled the other police vehicle over and noted the driver, 49 year old Manua Police Chief Shane Zilles appeared to be inebriated. Zilles was cooperative, yet failed a field sobriety test and struggled answering simple questions being asked him as of him. Trooper Goodrich arrested Zilles as he was notably impaired and should not have been on the road putting other people and himself in danger.

Prescription Drug DUI

Zilles inability to pass the field test pointed to him likely being impaired by either alcohol or drugs. Although Zilles appeared to be intoxicated, there was no alcohol detected through a breathalyzer and a tox screen for street drugs came back negative as well. It was determined however that Zilles had not been drinking or using street drugs, yet he had consumed prescription drugs sometime prior to getting behind the wheel of the police cruiser. He was cited for prescription drug DUI and reckless driving.

Class B misdemeanor

Taking prescription drugs is not against the law if taken by the person to whom it is prescribed. It is unlawful however to drive after taking medication if it impairs the person’s ability to drive safely. Utah Code 41-6a-502 states “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state if the person:

• . . . is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle”.

Section 41-6a-504 warns that “The fact that a person charged with violating section 41-6a-502 is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense against any charge of violating [said section]. Even if the prescription if legal and valid, driving under the influence of prescription drugs that cause impairment is a class B misdemeanor as noted in section 41-6a-503. That DUI charge could be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor or third degree felony if there was bodily injury as a result of an accident or a minor passenger in the vehicle.

Medication side-effects

As a law enforcement officer, Zilles should have known better than to drive impaired. When alcohol or street drugs are involved, impairment is expected. Prescription drugs however could cause impairment that is unknown to the user. Regarding Zilles, there is some information that hasn’t been released yet:

• what type of prescription drugs he was taking; and
• Whether or not it was a new prescription or something he had experience taking and therefore would have known the side effects.

While there are some medications that are known to cause drowsiness and reduced ability to drive such as sleeping pills or narcotic pain meds, others can catch a person off guard by how much they affect their capability to drive safely. It is important to read the labels and all included paperwork with new medications to see if driving impairment is a possibility. If there is any doubt on whether or not impairment could be a factor when taking a prescription medication, drivers are urged to use caution and refrain from driving if possible. Anyone facing charges related to prescription drug DUI are encouraged to seek counsel from an experience attorney.

Reckless Driver with Dab Pen Leaves Scene of Accident while Fleeing Demons

A reckless driver in Utah was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident and possession of a Dab pen after he rammed a school bus while reportedly fleeing demons.

Gotta get away

Photo by: Kevin Dooley

40 year old Brant Jay Diediker was arrested outside a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint temple in American Fork Utah, where he apparently went to save himself from Satan who he claimed was chasing him. Prior to his temple visit, Diediker was reported to have rammed a school bus full of children. Not only did he hit the bus with the truck he was driving, he repeated this action several times. Officers questioned why Diediker would ram the school bus, and although his actions were intentional, it didn’t’ appear to be done to harm the children. Instead, Diediker was just attempting to save himself from the dark lord.

High or unstable

From his actions, it may appear the Diediker was under the influence of some type of hallucinogen but in actuality, all that was found on him was a form of marijuana. Different from the plant that only produces a severe high if laced or smoke in large quantities, Diediker had been using was is known as Dab, a highly concentrated form of THC that is made from marijuana. Dab, which is also known as butane hash oil is extracted from dried marijuana leaves which are soaked in butane. The butane then evaporates and leaves a potent resin in its place. This resin typically has three to six times more THC than is typically found in marijuana. Diediker had an electronic cigarette with some of this potent resin in it, together known as a dab pen, which may or may not have led to his scary flight from the devil himself.

Criminal charges

Photo by: The Vape Guide

During the course of his flight from evil, Diediker committed 29 offenses, including:

• 20 counts of aggravated assault, third degree felony each. Diediker could have faced these numerous charges due to how many kids were on the bus at the time of the incident. Utah Code 76-5-103 states “Aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct: that is an attempt [threat, or act] . . . committed with unlawful force or violence that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and that includes the use of a dangerous weapon [like a motor vehicle]”.

Aggravated robbery of a vehicle, a first degree felony. A person commits aggravated robbery if in the course of committing robbery [taking personal property in the possession of another]: . . . takes or attempts to take an operable motor vehicle.” While fleeing, Diediker took possession of another person’s vehicle that he then used to drive himself to the temple.

Leaving the scene of an accident. Although no one was reported to have been hurt, Diediker was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries of which the penalties would consist of a class A misdemeanor or third degree felony if the injuries were serious.

Possession and driving with marijuana in his system. Diediker had a dab pen and at some point within the last few weeks had used it since it was in his system which together could result in a third degree felony and a class B misdemeanor.

Face the consequences

A few things remain unclear about Diediker’s scary incident and arrest. He may have been suffering from some mental illness or episode or perhaps he was in fact under the influence of potent THC from the Dab pen. If it was the latter, his charges should have resulted in a DUI. It also isn’t known if Diediker was a regular user of Dab or whether he was used to smoking old school joints and was trying something new for a change. Any form of marijuana that has THC in it is currently illegal in Utah for recreational use, and any actions someone takes while high are their responsibility, regardless of whether or not they were aware of the intense side effects. If Diediker was suffering from a mental disorder and not a bad high, he may wish to seek help from a medical professional as he moves forward in his case. For more information on current marijuana laws in Utah, or for help regarding crimes committed while mentally unstable, contact a reputable criminal defense attorney.