Utah police have discretion on whether to jail or cite and release DUI arrestees

Saturday , May 19, 2018 - 5:00 AM5 comments

When a driver is arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Utah, police officers have discretion in deciding whether to jail or cite and release the suspect.

The Standard-Examiner checked with several major police agencies about their policies after finding that two Davis County sheriff’s deputies picked up for DUI were handled differently.

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It comes down to the unique circumstances of each arrest, department spokesmen said. The primary concern is whether public safety would be endangered by citing and releasing a misdemeanor DUI suspect instead of taking the driver to jail.

“It’s actually really common to cite and release,” said detective Paul Rhoades, spokesman for the North Ogden Police Department. “If we can get a family member or someone to pick them up, we’d just as soon keep jail beds free for people who really need to be there.”

When a DUI arrestee is released by the police agency, usually the officer has the suspect sign a form promising to appear in court.

Such was the case when Apichat Joe Chintawan, a Davis County Sheriff’s Office jail deputy, was arrested July 16, 2015, on suspicion of driving drunk on 400 East (Washington Boulevard) in North Ogden. Chintawan was cooperative and his wife was able to pick him up.

Rhoades researched how North Ogden’s DUIs in 2017 were handled. He said of 19 arrestees, 11 were cited and released and eight were booked into the Weber County Jail.

“Six of the eight had things like warrants,” Rhodes said. “One assaulted the officer; one had meth; one was a police officer from another department who, when asked for his driver’s license, gave the officer his employee ID card.”

The officer who presented his police ID to the arresting officer was Brian Wayne Schultz, a Davis County jail deputy. He was stopped Sept. 17, 2017 — like Chintawan, in the predawn hours on Washington Boulevard.

The North Ogden officer said he noticed a passing car without taillights and turned around to pull over the car.

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“It appeared that the driver may have seen that I turned around and the vehicle accelerated, to the point that the vehicle was possibly trying to lose me,” the arresting officer’s report said.

The patrolman followed the car to a condominium complex, where Schultz was approached and asked for his ID.

Schultz refused to undergo sobriety tests and said he would submit to a breath or blood test only with a warrant. After police obtained a warrant and had Schultz’s blood drawn, he was taken to the Weber County Jail and booked.

Schultz’s photo was taken but was not posted to the jail’s website. When the Standard-Examiner submitted a records request for the photo, Lt. Joshua Marigoni, corrections spokesman, said the photo was “locked.”

Marigoni had the photo unlocked and provided it to the Standard-Examiner. He said the jail by policy locks photos of active military personnel from public view as part of an agreement with Hill Air Force Base. But the policy does not apply to photos of police officers or other public employees.

“We’re not sure why that happened,” Marigoni said. “It’s not our standard practice.”

Schultz pleaded no contest to reckless driving in April. He was given a six-month suspended jail term and fined $1,460.

Davis County Human Resources Director Debra Alexander said Schultz no longer is employed by the county.

Lt. Nathan Hutchinson, Weber County sheriff’s spokesman, said state law allows discretion to local police agencies on when to jail or release misdemeanor arrestees.

“Generally it boils down to public safety,” Hutchinson said. “If the officer reasonably believes the person doesn’t pose any type of threat and they reasonably believe they will actually show up to court,” cite and release is likely.

Another consideration is whether the person has a job and a home and is not a flight risk, Hutchinson said.

New patrol deputies receive at least a four-month field training program to recognize situations when jail bookings are mandatory and other factors of enforcement, he said.

“The short answer is, it is at the officer’s discretion,” said Ogden Police Capt. Danielle Croyle when asked about DUI citations versus bookings.

Detective Ty Berger, spokesman for the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, said each arrest is “stand alone” and deputies have limited discretion.

Medical needs and family dynamics are considered and deputies are allowed to be compassionate while enforcing the rule of law and staying within policy, Berger said.

“Bottom line is; we evaluate the need to arrest and book with the safety for the public, safety of the offender, likelihood of reoffending (and) can we release this offender to a responsible person,” Berger said by email.

The Utah Highway Patrol books most DUI arrestees into jail, said spokesman Sgt. Todd Royce.

“The only reasons for not doing so would be medical reasons, or have they been in a serious injury crash,” Royce said. “There may be some exigent circumstances, but not many.”

Utah Department of Public Safety data shows six police officer DUI cases were presented for discipline to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council in 2017. There were eight cases in 2016 and nine the year before.

Marshall Thompson, executive director of the Utah Sentencing Commission, said the state does not track how DUIs are written up.

In recent years, three other Northern Utah public employees, two of them elected officials, were not taken to jail when they were accused of crimes.

Brett Ryon Hadley was a Harrisville police officer in December 2015 when he was fired in the wake of four misdemeanor charges stemming from his earlier employment with the Pleasant View Police Department as the Weber High School resource officer.

Hadley was served with a court summons and charged in Ogden Justice Court with misdemeanor lewdness, sexual solicitation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and intoxication.

Hadley apparently never was booked into jail and later pleaded no contest to reduced charges.

William Michael Poff, then on the South Weber City Council, was charged in 2014 with three felony counts of embezzlement.

A Davis County judge granted Poff a stipulated booking order that allowed him to take his mugshot at one of eight different jails from Cache County down to Utah County. He had the photo taken in Salt Lake County.

The charges were dismissed in late 2017 after Poff reached a non-public settlement with prosecutors.

On Jan 3, 2018, Layton City Councilman Scott Freitag was arrested for DUI in Kaysville.

Police found an open alcohol container in the vehicle and a handgun in the center console, a press release said.

Freitag voluntarily did a breath test, police said, and he had a blood-alcohol level of .214, almost three times the legal limit.

Freitag was given a misdemeanor citation and was released to his family. He later pleaded guilty to DUI. The day after his arrest, he was fired from his job as director of Salt Lake City 911.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt.

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