Under Utah Code 53-3-223, a driver arrested for DUI may have a driver license hearing within 29 days of arrest as long as they request one, in writing, within 10 calendar days from the date of the arrest.
Under that same code, “a peace officer shall send to the [driver license] division within 10 calendar days after the day on which the notice is provided [aka the arrest date],” among other things, “a signed report.” But while a driver who doesn’t comply exactly with this law will be summarily denied, time and again Utah Driver License Division doesn’t hold law enforcement to the same standard.
Numerous drivers are having their licenses suspended or revoked even though the police aren’t complying with the law, and the Utah DLD is not holding police to the same law they hold drivers to. In a very recent example, Jason Schatz raised the objection at a hearing that the filing of the citation with the DLD was not proper because it was not sent in by the officer within 10 calendar days as the statute requires, yet the hearing officer indicated to Jason Schatz during the hearing that the DLD had decided the rules don’t apply to the police.
Mr. Schatz raised an objection that the Utah Highway Patrol filed an unsigned report 17 days after the arrest. Actually, the report was emailed on a Saturday at 3:30 in the morning to the DLD. After Mr. Schatz raised the objection, the hearing officer dismissed the violation of law stating, “We discussed this topic very specifically in our last hearing officer huddle. I am confident in how to proceed, and I’m conducting this hearing.”
However, despite giving police officers leeway from complying with the 10-day time limit in the statute, the Driver License Division will apply the same 10-day time limit against drivers with an iron fist. Citizens of Utah who are arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence and fail to submit a written request within 10 calendar days of the date of their arrest will have their hearing denied and their license suspended by default. In fact, the Utah Driver License Division will without fail deny a request for a hearing whenever the hearing request was not received by the DLD within the 10-day time.
It is reprehensible that law enforcement officers, who are charged with upholding the laws in Utah, aren’t required to comply with the laws themselves, and the Driver License Division thinks that is just fine. Courts routinely dismiss citations that are filed late after the 5-day deadline under Utah Code 77-7-20. The same standard should be applied to the administrative hearings. It isn’t. In most cases, the officers in the field submit their reports—maybe even in a timely manner—and then their agencies send them to the State of Utah Driver License Division, sometimes in an untimely manner but with no consequences. But it’s not the police who are allowing this practice to continue. It’s the DLD. The DLD hearing officers, those specifically charged with conducting a lawful hearing, have decided, on their own, that a violation of the time requirements to file doesn’t apply to the law enforcement agencies.
Simply put, the laws apparently don’t apply to the DLD and apparently not to the police, since they are not being held to the same standard as the people they arrest.