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Federal Court OK With Charging Sober Drivers With DUI

In Utah a sober woman was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) after admitting to having a single beer with lunch. According to the article on the incident, in October, 2016, Anexora Leon got pulled over for having an expired license plate. Once pulled over, the officer verified that Leon was telling the truth when she told them the correct plate was in the trunk. The officer suspected that she was drunk and insisted that he smelled alcohol, made her perform the roadside tests even though she had no physical signs of being drunk such as slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. The officer said she failed the roadside tests while Leon maintains that he gave her unclear instructions.

She was handcuffed and brought to the county jail to provide a blood sample. Leon was formally charged with a DUI even though the result of the test took two and half months to become available which showed she had been driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.01 well under the Utah strict limit of 0.05.

The practice of the country of charging DUI's before the results of the blood samples from the lab, force innocent people to hire defense attorneys, to defend against charges that eventually prove to be incorrect and dropped. This is a very expensive process for motorists as it is standard practice by defense attorneys to get payment in full prior to being retained to defend a client.

Leon sued the county for its practice of opening DUI prosecutions before the results of the DUI tests arrive from the lab causing financial strain on innocent motorists to hire expensive defense attorneys on cases that are eventually dropped.

On Wednesday, the Tenth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that the police nor the prosecutors did anything wrong when they went after Anexora Leon. "Given the odor of alcohol in plaintiff's vehicle and her admission to having had a beer with lunch (as stated in the complaint), there was arguable reasonable suspicion to detain her further and require her to participate in field sobriety tests," Judge Hartz wrote.

The three-judge federal appellate panel rejected Leon's argument since the standard for conducting a DUI test is much lower than the standard in court for finding someone guilty of DUI.

In a state with one of the strictest DUI laws in the country, this is worrying practice to see and the federal court backing this up is a worrying trend to see.

If you have been arrested for DUI, the next step in the process is an important one: contacting an attorney experienced in drunk driving defense. Before talking with a prosecutor, speak with a lawyer who will protect your rights, freedom and driver's license. 

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