Federal Court Tosses Lawsuit To Prevent Charging Sober Drivers With DUI

A sober woman will see no relief after Utah prosecutors charged her with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. The Tenth Circuit US Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that neither police nor prosecutors in Summit County did anything wrong when they went after Anexora Leon for driving after having a single beer with lunch.

Utah is known for its strict liquor laws limiting the sale of strong beers. Beginning December 30, the state will also have the toughest DUI standard in the nation, with those found driving with a 0.05 percent blood alcohol content facing $10,000 in fines and legal fees, a mandatory two-day jail sentence and a three-month license suspension on the first offense. Yet Leon was well under even that limit., A county-administered blood test showed she had been driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.01.

Leon’s troubles began on October 27, 2016, when she got behind the wheel of her silver Chrysler 300 on Highland Drive in Snyderville with an expired license plate on the back. Officer Mike Graham pulled her over and promptly verified that Leon was telling the truth when she told him the correct plate was in the trunk. The stop did not end there, however, as the officer suspected she was drunk, even though her balance was fine, her speech was not slurred and her eyes were not bloodshot.

Officer Graham and his partner insisted that they smelled alcohol, so they made her perform the standard battery of roadside tests, which they said she failed. Leon said the officer gave unclear instructions. She was handcuffed and placed under arrest so that she could provide a blood sample at the county jail. Leon had formal DUI charges hanging over her for two-and-a-half months before the results of that blood test became available.

Leon sued Summit County for its practice of opening DUI prosecutions before the results of DUI tests arrive from the lab, forcing innocent motorists to hire expensive attorneys to defend against the charges, even though they are eventually dropped.