It has been a very productive week here at Druyon Law Offices. I, Sean Druyon, am a member of the legislative committee for the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (UACDL) and have been up at Capitol Hill lobbying for the rights of the accused. This week I have been involved with all sorts of interesting legislation, including: Aggravated Murder Amendments, Cockfighting, Driving Under the Influence, Terrorism, Theft Amendments related to Metals, White Collar crimes, Expungement Amendments, and much, much more.
I testified before the senate earlier this week regarding the Aggravated Murder Amendments as well as regarding the proposed DUI laws that affect whether a driver can qualify for home confinement on a third offense. I also plan on testifying at the senate hearings next week regarding whether the Plea in Abeyance option for Driving Under the Influence charges should be eliminated or not. Of course, I will argue that this option should NOT be eliminated, as it provides a great resource to defendant that want to keep the offense off their record and not loose their driver’s license, but are still willing to accept responsibility for their indiscretion and are willing to pay the fines and take some classes to avoid repeating the offense. It is also good for prosecutor that don’t want to run the risk of losing a suppression motion or a trial and would rather compromise by doing a plea in abeyance and still getting the defendant to pay some fees and take a class to get some treatment so, hopefully, they will be less inclined to re offend. So, the Plea in Abeyance option is good for the State as well as many defendants.
As the current law is, no person can get a Plea in Abeyance on an alcohol DUI under 41-6a-502 of the Code, but they can under 41-6a-517 (drug DUI). The proposed law would preclude a person from obtaining a Plea in Abeyance on any kind of DUI or reckless driving charge. I think the law is really trying to clamp down on drunk drivers. And while I agree we need to make our streets safer, I don’t believe that imposing this new law would accomplish that. I believe a Plea in Abeyance is appropriate in certain circumstances, especially on a first offense, since these are usually sufficient “eye openers” to clients that may have never realized that a few beers puts them right about the legal limit and, had they known that, they never would have driven their vehicle at all. Eliminating the Plea in Abeyance option would cause less cases to settle, more cases to be tried, which drives up the cost for defendants as well as the state. And for all the cases that the state loses, they miss out on all that revenue and must still pay for the expense of the trial and/or motion hearings. So, eliminating the Plea in Abeyance option for ALL DUIs and reckless driving charges is definitely not the way to go.
Stay tuned for more interesting experiences from the Hill!