Right to an Independent Chemical Test for Utah DUI Cases

A person who gets arrested for DUI in Utah is considered to have given implied consent to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol content.  Many people have no idea that the state has unilaterally applied implied consent to every single resident in and passerby of Utah.  Even less people know you have right to (1) receive the results of any chemical test, and (2) have an independent chemical test performed.

In Provo City v. Werner, 810P.2d 469 (Utah Ct. App. 1991) the court addressed the right to an independent chemical test.  In that case the cops who arrested the defendant provided the defendant with an opportunity to provide a sample for an independent test.  She declined to call her attorney or physician, however.  Although she provided a urine sample she was not able to have it tested because there were chain of custody issues.  On appeal, the defendant argued that the police should have explained what chain of custody is and how the defendant could ensure that chain of custody was proper for testing.  Although the Utah Supreme Court recognized the right to an independent chemical test, it did not agree that the law enforcement officers had a duty to explain chain of custody issues.  The court found that what is required to provide due process in relation to a chemical test is to ensure that there “is an opportunity to obtain an independent test.”  In most circumstances “access to a telephone in order to arrange an independent test is typically sufficient to provide due process to an individual accused of driving under the influence.”

Law enforcement is prohibited from denying a person an opportunity to get an independent chemical test.  Additionally, the defendant in a Utah DUI case has the right to obtain comparable evidence to the chemical test conducted by law enforcement, e.g. independent breath, urine, and blood test.

Give our Utah DUI lawyers a call for more information if you are facing drunk driving charges.

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