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Can I avoid a mandatory driver license suspension for a drug conviction?

Under Utah law, a conviction for drug or drug related offenses can result in having your driver's license suspended.  Common charges that can result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license include possession of a controlled substance (drug possession), possession of drug paraphernalia, distribution of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.  But it is sometimes possible to avoid a mandatory driver license suspension when you are charged with a drug-related crime in Utah.  To understand how a criminal conviction for a drug charge may affect you, it is best to consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer.

For most drug charges, the license suspension is based on a conviction for the charge.  So anything that avoids a conviction should also avoid the suspension.  A successful motion to suppress that results in a dismissal or getting a not guilty verdict at trial are options for avoiding a conviction.  But an honest attorney will admit that it is not possible to guarantee a win at trial or to guarantee that a motion to suppress may be successful.

An alternative way to achieve a dismissal of your case is to negotiate a plea in abeyance.  Entering a plea in abeyance agreement allows you the opportunity to guarantee a dismissal of your case by your own compliance with the terms of probation ordered by the judge.  Upon successful completion of the conditions of the plea in abeyance, your case may be dismissed.

Under prior Utah law, a conviction was automatically reported to the Utah Driver License Division.  Upon receipt of that notice, your license was automatically suspended.  Changes in the law have been made that allow a judge to decline to report the conviction to the Driver License Division.  This may allow you to avoid the license suspension.

Other options for avoiding a mandatory driver license suspension include having the conviction entered nunc pro tunc.  This process can have the effect of allowing the suspension period to begin even before the conviction is actually entered.  Thus, by the time the conviction is entered, the suspension period has already expired.

Keeping your driver license can be critical to maintaining employment and fulfilling other obligations you may have.  As an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Utah, Stephen Howard has helped many clients find solutions to their legal problems.  His track record includes not guilty verdicts or dismissals in drug-related cases including drug possession, prescription fraud, distribution of a controlled substance, and more.  He also has extensive experience working inside Utah's felony drug court system.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah.  For help with your legal case, contact us now to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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