West Valley City DUI Results in Various Property Damage

Driving Under the Influence causes property damage

Photo: U.S. Navy

Fortunately only property was damaged in West Valley City over the weekend as a man suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol-more commonly known as a DUI –crashed into several things, ultimately ending the ride lodged in the wall of a local butcher shop. In addition to the DUI, the suspect was also driving on a suspended license.

Maybe He Just had the Munchies

According to a report from KSL News, on Sunday, Sept. 21, just before 8 a.m., Pimoteyo Walden was traveling at “an extremely high rate of speed” on 3500 South near 5300 West. He allegedly drifted off the road, making matters even worse at that rate of speed.

The first object of his assault was a power pole which was damaged, resulting in the loss of power to a nearby neighborhood. Next he hit a tree, which was as thick as a power pole, according to West Valley Police Lt. Dalan Taylor. Finally, he crashed through the exterior brick wall of Hunsaker Meats.

Walden was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol ( DUI ) and driving on a suspended license. According to Lt. Taylor, Walden only suffered a bloody nose, and fortunately for him, no other people were injured as a result of his actions.

Driving Under the Influence ( DUI ): More Than Just Legal Consequences

According to Utah Code 41-6A-503, a person convicted of a DUI for the first or second time is guilty of a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, it is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500, if the following occurs:

  • bodily injury of another as a proximate result, or
  • the driver had a passenger under 16 years of age in the vehicle at the time of offense, or
  • the driver was 21 years old and had a passenger under 18 in the vehicle at the time.

A third offense, or the infliction of “serious” bodily injury, will result in a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

However, another consideration to keep in mind is the “collateral sanctions” imposed by a DUI conviction. According to Utah Code 41-6a-502, as of July 1, 2012, “a court shall, monthly, send to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing . . . a report containing the name, case number, and, if known, the date of birth of each person convicted during the previous month of a violation of [driving under the influence]” This is considered a “collateral sanction” and is grounds for revocation of professional licenses.

[For more on our discussion of “collateral sanctions,” click on our post, The “Collateral Damage” of a Conviction]

Driving under the influence can have serious repercussions on your personal and professional life, beyond those imposed by the law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, don’t leave your fate in the hands of a public defender. Make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

DUI Arrest for Utah RSL player Sebastian Velasquez Raises Concerns

Sebastian Velasquez DUI Arrest

Photo: John Fischer

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in full swing in Brazil, the game of soccer has taken center stage in sports news and is the topic of water cooler discussions among fans and non-fans alike. However, given his DUI arrest on May 19, Real Salt Lake (RSL) midfielder Sebastian Velasquez may have other things on his mind as well, and concerns are being raised in regards to the incident.

Details of the DUI Arrest

According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, early morning on Monday May 19, Sebastian Velasquez, 23, was pulled over driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone of I-15 near 2700 South. The trooper on the scene reported that Velasquez had a distinct odor of alcohol on his breath. After failing a field sobriety test, he was given a breathalyzer test which registered 0.199, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Velasquez was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail at 5:18 a.m. and formally charged with a DUI class B misdemeanor and a class C misdemeanor for speeding on May 27. An arraignment for June 2 was cancelled when Velasquez’s attorney entered a notice of appearance and a plea of not guilty.

Standard DUI Arrest Penalties

According to Utah Code 41-6a-505, the penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol involves several things if it is a first conviction. This may include:

  • a minimum 48 hour jail sentence
  • compensatory-service work program or home confinement of not fewer than 48 hours
  • minimum $700 fine
  • court mandated participation in an assessment
  • participation in an educational series or substance abuse treatment
  • probation if there is evidence of a blood alcohol level of 0.16 or higher

Concerns Specific to the Velasquez Case

This is not Sebastian Velasquez’s first run-in with alcohol abuse. In a candid discussion with students at North Davis Junior High in Layton, Utah, in January of 2014, Velasquez admitted to using drugs and alcohol after dropping out of school as a way to escape his problems. Even though he told those students that he realized his poor behavior wasn’t getting him anywhere–especially closer to his dream of becoming a professional soccer player–it seems he hasn’t entirely left that behavior behind.

Even though RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey has been quoted as saying they are following the protocol for situations such as these and Velasquez is already back on the field, there are still some issues that can’t be ignored. The first of which is the fact that this is a team which has away games in Canada.

Canada’s Tough Stance Regarding a DUI Arrest

Many tourists to Canada have been surprised when they attempted to cross the border with their passport in hand only to be turned away because of a prior DUI arrest.

The fact is that Canada takes a much harsher stance when it comes to drunk driving, and border officers may choose to send you packing if you try to enter the country with a conviction. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t driving when you attempt to cross or even if you don’t plan on driving at all. It has been reported that tourists wanting to take a ferry to Victoria for one day walking tours are regularly turned away for having a DUI arrest.

In order to enter Canada with a previous conviction, you have two choices. You can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit which is issued for a limited period of time. However, these permits are primarily intended for a specific purpose in traveling, of which simply “going on vacation” is not generally included. If five years has passed since the completion of your sentence for the DUI, including any fines, service or probation, you can petition the Canadian Immigration Authorities for a “Criminal Rehabilitation” permit.

When it comes to familiar faces such as Sebastian Velasquez, the rules still apply. Even former U.S. President George W. Bush had to apply for a waiver to enter Canada as a result of a 1976 offense in Maine. Fortunately for Velasquez, the Temporary Resident Permit can potentially be valid for multiple visits up to three years.

A Question of Public Perception

Perhaps of greater concern is the age old discussion of what we expect from our public figures. Whether it’s regarding a movie star, politician, musician or sports figure, many people would say that these public figures should hold themselves to a higher standard, especially when they are viewed in high esteem in the eyes of the youth.

Others would say that these figures aren’t superhuman just because they are more in the public eye. In fact, the pressures of such positions are often attributed as being one of the antecedents to criminal behavior. In the case of Velasquez, who has confessed to his own struggles with substance abuse and tried to lead youth down a smarter road, perhaps he deserves some lenience. This path of forgiveness and moving forward seems to be the one being taken by the management of the RSL club.

A pretrial conference for Velasquez’s case has been scheduled for Monday, August 20 in Salt Lake City Justice Court.

Utah Legislature Shortens Driver License Suspension for DUI and Some Alcohol Related Offenses

Photo: Richard Masoner

Photo: Richard Masoner

Utah House Bill 15 (HB 15) concerning driver license suspension amendments made its way through the state legislature and has been signed by the governor.

Driver License Suspension Shortens in HB 15

The passing of this bill effectively shortened the suspension period for certain drivers who have their driver license suspended due to certain alcohol-related offenses. The new part of the law shortens a person’s two-year or one-year license suspension to a six-month suspension if:

* the driver was under the age of 19 at the time of his arrest

* the offense was a first offense that was committed prior to May 14, 2013 and

* the suspension was based on the same occurrence upon which certain written verifications are based

The “certain written verifications” may include:

* a court order shortening the driver license suspension

* dismissal of the violation

* notice by a prosecutor that he is choosing to not prosecute the person

* reduction of a charge

* other written documentation deemed acceptable to the Driver License Division

Some Rule Changes May Come from the Driver License Division

The change in the law also states that the Utah Driver License Division may make rules establishing requirements for acceptable written documentation. We don’t know what, if any, rules the Driver License Division may come up with, but could include things such as a written exam, for example.

Additionally, if a person’s driver license suspension is shortened, he will still be required to pay the license reinstatement fees to get his license back.

It’s nice to see the Legislature making some law changes that will hopefully benefit the average citizen who may inadvertently get into a bit of alcohol-driving trouble.

If you have any questions about this law and how it affects you, don’t hesitate to contact a top Utah criminal defense attorney today.