By Cliff Hypsher
Colorado's DUI (a.k.a. DWI or OUI)laws and penalties are among the toughest. The State's "legal limit" of 0.05 BAC is the lowest in the United States. Even a first DUI can land you in jail without the option of in-home detention / ankle monitor if your alcohol level was particularly high. Penalties for second DUI include mandatory jail, in some cases without the possibility of alternative sentencing. A third Colorado DUI, DWAI or DUID is punishable by sixty days mandatory jail without possibility of in-home detention / ankle monitor. Any prior conviction can be counted even if it occurred thirty years ago in another state. Lindsay Flanigan Courthouse - Denver The jail periods above are only mandatory minimums. Under Colorado's DUI law you may be sentenced to one year in jail for any DUI, DUID or second DWAI. A second year in jail is possible if court ordered probation is not completed satisfactorily.
Consulting a DUI attorney as soon as possible after you are released from custody makes good sense considering the possible consequences. Most Colorado DUI lawyers will give you a free consultation. I provide a telephone consultation, free of charge. Telephone consultations usually last about 15-30 minutes.
DUI-ADVISOR.com was started in 1998 to help people facing Colorado drunk driving charges. Since then the website has grown to include information on just about every topic relevant to a Colorado DUI. Below, you will find some simple first steps you should take if you are fighting a drunk driving charge. Part II discusses driver's license consequences. Part III concerns Criminal Penalties for Colorado DUIs. For out-of-state residents please review Colorado DUI law for Non-residents.
Most people arrested for drunk driving are pretty shaken up for a few days after their arrest. Still, what you do in the hours and days after a DUI arrest can greatly influence the outcome of your case. Here are a few simple steps you should take to soon after you are released:
Documents given to you at the time of your release may contain information which will form the basis of a strong defense. The summons, Affidavit and Notice of Revocation and any other documents from the police or detox center should be retained for review by your attorney. A good Colorado DUI lawyer will want to check these documents to determine whether your chemical test was taken within the two hour time limit mandated by law and whether Colorado Department of Health testing procedures followed. You should also preserve credit card receipts, cell phone records, tow truck receipts and similar documents as these may help if the time of "actual physical control" of a vehicle is an issue.
Any experienced DUI lawyer will tell you that as time passes you will forget important details about your case. While certain facts may seem insignificant to you, these same facts in the hands of an experienced attorney could mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Talk to passengers, friends and family to ask them what they remember. Police are trained to take notes about things that might incriminate you but they purposely exclude facts from their reports that might exonerate you - so its up to you to bring to your attorney's attention facts that might help your case. Writing a narrative is one way to do this.
Write down everything you remember about what happened leading up to contact with the police. Include a list of what you had to drink and when you drank it. Detail everything you said and that the police said up to the time you were released. Did you see a video surveillance camera in the police car or at the police station where you were given an alcohol test? These notes could be helpful in formulating a defense or to refresh you memory months later during a trial or other hearing.
Except in rare instances, it is always a good idea to request a hearing concerning revocation of your drivers license for "driving with excessive alcohol content" or "refusal." If you took a breath test or refused any test and you were issued an Affidavit and Notice of Revocation you should request a hearing, in writing, with the Department of Revenue within seven days. Failure to do so will not only result in loss of your driver's license but also loss of your right to a hearing during which you might save your license. In order to make sure that the written request is made properly, consult a competent attorney prior to going to DMV if possible. If you took a blood test, the hearing request must be made within a time period that will be specified in correspondence from the Colorado DMV. When you go to a DMV office to request a hearing, you may also wish to obtain a photo ID card.
This is an obvious step to protect your rights. Unless you've had some training in general criminal law and DUI law in particular, you should run your case by a lawyer who specializes in DUI. Whether you hire an attorney should be a decision made after careful deliberation, but usually it costs you nothing to speak with an attorney on the telephone about your case.
Attorney Cliff Hypsher
3780 South Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113