Utahns cleared of DUI accusations are forced to pay to get their licenses back
LOGAN, Utah — Amy Olsen has her driving privilege back now, but it cost her $255. For her, it is a frustrating ordeal that began months earlier when a trooper pulled her over.
“Oh, you’re acting funny,” Olsen said a Utah trooper told her when he stopped her in downtown Logan. He ran her through a field sobriety test.
Olsen said she does not have great balance and she stumbled.
“I do not drink. Never done drugs. I’ve never drank. I come from a very religious family,” she said.
The trooper did not buy it and cited her for driving under the influence and hauled her off to jail.
“I don’t know if I could process it. It was so surreal,” Olsen said.
What was not surreal were the very real consequences, including, ultimately, a suspension of her driving privilege.
Olsen had her vindication in court. Blood, urine, and breath tests all came back clean and the case against her was dropped. All charges dismissed.
So why does she still have to pay to get back a driving privilege?
“This is what really is hard for me to process,” she said.
We reached out to the state’s Driver License Division multiple times to ask about all of this. They refused to provide anybody to speak to it on camera but in a written statement, cited Utah law.
“All Driver’s License fees have been set by the Legislature,” a spokesperson wrote, adding the law, “specifically states that even after a court dismissal, the driver is required to pay the license reinstatement fees.”
When asked specifically if the division thinks the law is “appropriate,” they declined to say.
Digging deeper, it seems Olsen is not alone in being cleared but still being forced to pay. According to the 18th Annual DUI Report to the Utah Legislature from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, here in Utah, when a “DUI-related case” goes to court, 21.1% are either dismissed, the prosecutor declines prosecution, or the defendant is found not guilty.
That is more than one in five who are cleared of the crime but will still have to pay to get their driving privilege back.
Olsen, and her husband, Jeff, say they are using their experience to advocate for change. They believe innocent people should not have to pay when troopers get it wrong.
They are now working with their state representative, who is looking at the law.
For now, in Utah, if you are charged with a DUI, expect to pay, whether you are guilty or not.
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