Colorado DUI Laws and Drunk Driving Defense
Cutting Your Losses: Ten Tips To Minimizing Your Risk of Being Convicted of DUI and Saving Your Colorado Driving Privileges
- When questioned for DUI before arrest, you are not in custody for the purposes of Miranda warnings. If you politely refuse to answer any of the officer's questions concerning the DUI investigation, either before or after the arrest, then there won't be any statements that can be used against you in court.
- Field Sobriety Tests are completely voluntary. If you perform them, you may be arrested anyway. It may be better not to give the cop evidence that will be used against you in court. You can politely refuse to do the Field Sobriety Exercises.
- Refuse to take the preliminary alcohol screening test. If you are older than 21, the test is voluntary and you have the right to refuse this type of breath test.
- But do not confuse this with the breath/blood test performed at the police station. Refusal to take that test triggers automatic one year loss of license.
- When given a choice of blood or breath after arrest, choose a breath. If is far less reliable than a blood test. Your lawyer might be able to have the breath sample re-tested which could save your license.
- Contact a friend or relative from jail as soon as possible so they can hear you speak and note your state of sobriety.
- Always be polite and respectful to the police officers. How you are perceived by a jury is extremely critical.
- Some jurisdictions video the arrest, breath testing and/or booking process. Always be on your best behavior.
- Make a detailed list of all the events before being stopped up to and including being released from custody.
- Retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. Only an experienced defense attorney is able to spot your favorable issues relevant to trial, plea, or sentencing, and to present them to prosecutor, judge, jury, or DMV hearing officer.
Things to Know and to Do Within Seven (7) Days of DUI Arrest
- If you need to save your driver?s license or privileges, you or your attorney have only seven (7) days to contact the Colorado DMV!
- The seven (7) day time limit is computed from the issue date of the ORDER OF REVOCATION/TEMPORARY DRIVER LICENSE which is usually the day of your arrest. If time is running out or you are late, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney ss soon as possible.
- Even if you have a license from another state, and even if the officer did not take your license, that state may also take action against your driving privileges.
- This initial TEMPORARY DRIVER LICENSE is valid for only seven (7) days from the issue date unless you request a DMV hearing. If a DMV hearing is requested within that time, your TEMPORARY LICENSE will be extended and there will be a stay (delay) of any suspension until the outcome of your DMV hearing is determined.
- Do not confuse the DMV hearing with your court date! The Department of Motor Vehicles and criminal proceedings are separate and independent. The outcome of one almost never affects the other.
- In the DMV hearing, the hearing officer will only decide certain issues. For example, in DUI administrative law, the hearing officer only decides the following three items (note that it does not mater whether you need your license):
- Whether the police officer had a legal reason to stop you;
- Whether the police officer had a legal reason to arrest you; and,
- Whether or not the blood, breath, or urine result/test is reliable enough to suspend your license.
- If you are accused of refusing to take a test, the hearing officer decides whether you refused after the office fully advised you of the law. This example is, of course, very brief in nature and does not cover any sub-issues involved in a DUI administrative hearing that a lawyer would challenge in your defense.
- In the DMV hearing, you do not have the right to appointed counsel. Because DMV hearings are considered civil actions, as opposed to the discussion above regarding criminal actions, you must bring your own lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, you will probably lose the hearing and your license unless you study the law in this area before your hearing. Even with a lawyer, there is no guarantee of outcome. Still, you should at least consult one before any hearing.
Driver’s License Revocation
As of January 1, 2009, a person who is tested at 0.08 or above will have their privilege to drive in the State of Colorado revoked for nine months on a first offense, However, the driver is eligible to reinstate after 30 days of no driving, provided they have an interlock device installed in their vehicle. For a second offense, the prohibition against driving is for one full year, with no possibility of obtaining a probationary driver’s license.
An interlock is a device that is connected to the ignition of your vehicle, which measures whether there is any alcohol content in your breath. If the machine detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. There are many companies in Denver that now provide interlock device installation and service.
During Your Arrest
Contrary to common belief, you are not entitled to have an attorney present, or even available by phone, during your arrest and the subsequent blood or breath test. If you do not take the BAC test because you are insisting on the advice of counsel first, this will be recorded by the officer as a refusal to take the test. The best advice is to perform the breath test, as a refusal will be looked at as evidence of guilt by a jury, should your case go as far as jury trial.