Colorado DUI Law Summary Part I
A minimum sixty day jail sentence is mandatory(that means an ankle monitor/in home detention cannot be substituted)if you are convicted of a third DUI, DUID or DWAI in a lifetime even if the earlier alcohol related driving offense happened in another state! Get a free telephone consultation with an experienced DUI attorney! Call 1.877.362.9091 now .
Defendants accused of DUI who are hoping to stop a drivers license revocation and avoid a lengthy jail sentence for a Colorado DUI, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney. Many people who call me ask "My friend says a lawyer cannot do anythingfor me that I can't do for myself!" The simple answer is that most people are not able to defend themselves effectively against a trained district attorney or DMV hearing officer. First, most people aren't familiar with what issues might be relevant to their case e.g., does it matter that you pulled over after realizing you were driving drunk? Second, even if a defendant is able to identify the issues that are important to his or her case it is unlikely that he or she will be familiar with what legal tactics are effective in setting up a defense. There are also emotional pitfalls associated with representing yourself. Remember the old saying that "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." Unfortunately, no attorney, no matter how much money you spend, can guarantee that your case will be dismissed. At minimum though, competent counsel will help you through the DUI process with a minimum of confusion and and angst. Depending on the facts of your case an attorney can obtain a lesser sentence for you, save your driver's license or in some circumstances even get the case dismissed.
While a few clients over-estimate the strength of their case (e.g., "I need this dismissed") many of our other clients think they will be convicted of DUI even though they have strong defenses to the charges. Often working with the evidence at hand we can get a case dismissed or charges reduced because of issues we identified through discovery of the prosecution's evidence. One advantage of using me as your attorney is that my undergraduate degree is in science so I have the training to recognize and understand technical defenses that other attorneys miss. If you don't know what you are doing - get help! Despite what others may have told you, do-it-yourself fixes can cost you more in time and money than hiring competent counsel. The Colorado Legislature is constantly changing the law resulting in confusion even among lawyers who don't concentrate on DUI law.
Under the latest version of the law, after July 1, 2010, second drunk driving offenses (DUI per se, DUI, DWAI, DUID) are punishable by a minimum of 10 days in jail. Electronic monitoring is a possibility on a second offense in some cases. Work release is theoretically available for all DUI sentences, but, short sentences of less than two weeks sometimes don't allow enough time to process a work release request. If your last DUI was within 5 years home detention is not available and you must do jail time if you're convicted. Many judges are refusing to grant electronic monitoring even where defendants are eligible because they believe its ineffective - jail is sometimes the only option offered without a lengthy legal fight! If you've been arrested for a third or subsequent alcohol related driving offense you're facing at least 60 days mandatory jail - without possibility of ankle monitor home detention! Jail for second or subsequent offense is to be served "flat" i.e., no credit for good time, earned time or trustee status! Work release may or may not be offered for these types of sentences. Drivers who get caught with an alcohol level in excess of 0.20 BAC face a minimum of ten days in jail and no possibility of an ankle monitor. The bottom line is that just about all penalties have increased to the point that trying to do your case without a lawyer is not a smart option.
Are you thinking about negotiating with the DA and taking whatever she offers? Trying to represent yourself without a lawyer and just taking the District Attorney's offer is unlikely to save you money in the long run especially if you have prior DUIs. Consider this - of all the people in the world who you should take advice from, the District Attorney is the least likely to help you because her job is to get convictions. The DA handling your case retains his job and gets promotions based upon the number of convictions he or she can get. Deputy district attorneys routinely refuse to disclose evidence that could help your case. If you don't know how to enforce your rights to disclosure of all the evidence, good and bad, in your case, what would otherwise be a dismissal or non-alcohol case can turn into a conviction for DUI. The consequences of a conviction or conviction on more serious charges will cost you more in the long run in terms of lost work, increased probation costs and lost job opportunities.
Similarly, if you are facing a driver's license revocation you should know that the DMV Hearing Section isn't at all interested in how you'll get to work or care for your kids without a driver's license. One supervisor at DMV is alleged to have said to co-workers that she enjoyed revoking drivers licenses because it made her feel powerful! The bottom line is that representing yourself in a DUI is not always the cheapest and easiest way to deal with the criminal justice system.
If you've had a prior dui arrest an experienced DUI attorney can mean the difference between getting the charges dropped and going to jail. There are so many hidden traps involved in defending against a drunk driving charge that you need competent help from a Colorado attorney to insure that your rights are protected. DUI-Advisor was started in 1998 as a way of informing the public about ways to successfully defend against a Colorado DUI. Since then DUI-Advisor has grown from a single page into a substantial resource for anyone seeking generic advice on a drunk driving or DUID charge.
As of July 1, 2010 the Colorado General Assembly has revised the minimum penalties for a DWAI, DUI or DUID conviction upwards. Most notable about the changes are removal of the in-home detention option for many repeat offenses. There are more mandatory miniumums than previously. For more information see Colorado DUI Penalties
Colorado's dui enforcement is one of the most unreasonable in the United States. You can be stopped, handcuffed and jailed for the slightest odor of alcohol on your breath, in part because of the 0.05 BAC presumptive range. This means that even if you drink even one beer or a glass of wine with dinner you can't be sure that you won't be arrested for an alcohol related driving offense. Women unfairly suffer greater impact from drunk driving limits because they tend to have lower body weights and so achieve higher alcohol concentrations than the average man who drinks the same amount of alcohol. The average woman who has only one or two drinks during the course of an evening can easily exceed "the legal limit."
Since the 1980's state and local governments have discovered that DUI arrests are an excellent way to generate revenue. Pushed by special interest groups and a desire of local governments to increase "revenue," the national "legal limit" has crept steadily lower. Police officers are instructed to look for any excuse to pull over drivers during hours when people are likely to be driving after having consumed alcohol. In addition police agencies in most districts have adopted policies of stopping as many people as possible as a general crime fighting measure. These policies mean that many people are stopped without the minimum "reasonable suspicion" - the police simply make up a reason to stop them! These tactics can result in an unfair violation of your constitutional rights unless you know how to defend yourself in court and before the DMV. Do you know how to spot and exploit "constitutional violations" made by the police to get evidence suppressed and the case dismissed?
In order to have a good chance at defending against a Colorado alcohol driving charge you or your lawyer must be familiar with both the law specific to this area, and how those laws are applied by the police, district attorney and courts. Having a competent Colorado DUI attorney can mean the difference between acquittal and losing your driver's license or going to jail. Lately I've gotten a lot of calls from people who think that a DUI case will disappear after a seven year "Statute of Limitations." The fact of the matter is that the "Statute of Limitations" doesn't apply where a case has been filed against you in court. Nor is it possible to "Expunge" record of a DUI conviction in Colorado after the fact. Its always best to fight the DUI with every weapon available to you. This requires a well trained dui attorney working with other DUI experts such as toxicologists, pharmacologists and accident reconstruction engineers.
Unlike many lawyers who can't be bothered to answer questions or return phone calls, we will help you to understand what is going on in your case and how it will effect you and your family. We know the law and how it will be applied in your case. What's more we understand technical defenses based upon blood and breath testing. We are trained in the correct operation of the breath test machines used here, the Intoxylizer 5000EN. We are also certified to administer NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety tests. Cliff Hypsher is a member of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. where the best DUI attorneys in the country collaborate to share the latest, most effective DUI defense techniques! Call 1.877.362.9091 now for a free consultation if you or some one you know needs competent help with a drunk driving offense.
I've devoted over 25 years learning about the science of DUIs and how they are prosecuted. This site is designed to make understanding the the DUI Law a little easier. Please report inactive links so that we can correct any problem. We want you to get the full benefit of the site's content.
There are three major parts to the "Summary." Below, in Part I, you will find some simple first steps you should take if you have recently been arrested for a drunk driving offense. Part II discusses Administrative Penalties. Part III concerns Criminal Penalties for Colorado DUIs. Part I contains practical steps to take immediately after your are released from custody to insure that your rights are protected. Part II and III are intended to help you to understand the DUI process and what penalties you are facing and should be reviewed after you've gone through Part I.
How should you prepare yourself to fight a DUI or DUID arrest?
Most people arrested for drunk driving are pretty shaken up for a few days after their arrest. Because of ever decreasing "legal limits," behavior that most people would consider innocent - a couple glasses of wine with dinner or a few beers during a concert can result in fines, lengthy probation or jail. What can you do to protect yourself against drunk driving charges? Obviously, you could never drink alcohol at a party, restaurant or concert again. If you live near where you are going to drink, a taxi or public transportation is a viable solution. There are many handheld breath test devices available for under $500.00 that allow you to check your BAC before driving. But what if you already been arrested for DUI? Listed below are a few simple steps you should take as soon as you are released by the police or detox center:
More information about protecting your rights.
DUI-Advisor is intended as a resource for non-lawyers faced with a Colorado DUI. The information provided here is updated periodically, however DUI law is constantly evolving -always consult with a licensed attorney before making any important decision about your case!
Attorney Cliff Hypsher
Gregg Kay Business Law