Articles Posted in Drunk Driving/ DUI

Like other U.S. states, the minimum legal drinking age in Colorado is 21 years. People who are younger than 21 years of age are not legally permitted to drink alcohol in Colorado, whether or not they are driving a motor vehicle. As a result, the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) when a driver is under age 21 are triggered at a lower blood alcohol level than for drivers who are 21 or older. Drivers under 21, however, have the same legal rights as older drivers, including the right to seek the help of an aggressive Colorado Springs DUI defense attorney.

A DUI for a person under age 21 in Colorado is known as an Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) charge. A UDD charge may be brought if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.02 percent and 0.05 percent. If a BAC test reveals a BAC of 0.05 percent or higher, the driver will face the same penalties as an adult driver with a similar BAC.
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Colorado DUI LawsThe General Assembly is currently debating whether they should sign in House Bill 1077. House Bill 1077 would be instrumental in changing current laws regarding DUI, DUI per se, and DWAI arrests. The bill would allow drivers to challenge the validity of the law enforcement officer’s initial contact with the driver at Department of Revenue (DOR) driver’s license revocation hearings. The hearing officer will consider these issues when a driver raises them as defenses.

The bill was proposed after the Colorado Court of Appeals decision in Francen v. Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles, __P.3d __ , (Colo. App. no. 12CA110). The court of appeals ruled that the lawfulness of the initial stop of a motorist is irrelevant for purposes of Colorado’s express consent law. This ruling overturned many years of case law, which allowed the law enforcement officer’s initial contact to be challenged.
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In Colorado, a person convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) may be able to get his or her driver’s license reinstated if the driver agrees to use an ignition interlock device. The device is installed on the driver’s vehicle, usually at the driver’s expense. It requires a breath test free from alcohol in order to start the vehicle and may also require breath tests at random times while the vehicle is in motion.

The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles keeps a list of approved ignition interlock device vendors. If you are eligible, you choose a vendor, have the device installed, and then submit several pieces of information to the DMV, including an affidavit, installation certificate, application form and fee, an SR-22 certificate from your auto insurer, and evidence you’ve completed an approved drug or alcohol treatment program. Your reinstated license is typically sent to you by mail; according to the DMV, the process can take up to 20 days. After reinstatement, you may need to take a driving test in your interlock-equipped vehicle, which can be scheduled at a Colorado driver’s license office.
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If you’re facing a drunk-driving charge in Colorado – either a charge for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with ability impaired (DWAI) – you have the right to go to trial. If you do go to trial, the prosecutor may use several types of evidence to try and prove that you are guilty of DUI or DWAI.

Here are two categories of evidence used in many DUI and DWAI trials:.

  • Witness testimony. Witness testimony may be used in two ways in a DUI case. First, the prosecution may call a witness to testify to his or her actual observations – for instance, by asking the police officer who arrested you what he or she saw, heard, or smelled.
  • Second, witness testimony may be used to establish that another piece of evidence actually is what the prosecutor claims it is. For instance, a lab technician may be called to explain the process of testing a blood sample that created a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading.
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Every person charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) in Colorado has the right to go to trial, although not everyone chooses to go to trial.

Here’s an overview of the process used in most DUI trials, starting on the day of trial:

  1. The parties meet in the courtroom and discuss preliminary issues, like last-minute plea agreements or the ability to use or to keep out certain pieces of evidence.
  2. If you have a jury trial, the process of “voir dire” is used to pick the jurors. The chosen jury is sworn in, and the judge reads pre-trial instructions to them.
  3. The prosecutor makes an opening statement describing what he or she intends to prove. Your attorney may make an opening statement, or he may wait until the second half of the trial.
  4. The prosecutor presents evidence to try to build the case he or she described in the opening statement. Evidence may include witnesses, lab reports, and other items. Your attorney may challenge the evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and raise objections to protect your legal rights.
  5. The prosecutor “rests,” or finishes, and your attorney takes the floor. Your attorney may call witnesses or present other evidence, and the prosecutor may challenge it, cross-examine witnesses, or raise objections.

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If you are arrested in Colorado on suspicion of drunk driving, the next two steps you’ll face in the criminal process are booking and arraignment. You should contact an experienced Colorado DUI defense attorney as soon as you can during or after this process. In the meantime, it is wise to exercise your Miranda rights by saying nothing to the police unless an attorney is present to help you.

The “booking” process is used to place a person in jail. Typically, during booking, your fingerprints will be taken. A DNA sample may also be taken; in many cases, DNA samples are taken by using a cotton swab that is rubbed inside the cheek. Any personal items you have with you at your arrest, like your clothing, wallet, or jewelry, will be inventoried. You may also be photographed and your identifying information, like name or address, written down.
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April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and this year it kicks off with Alcohol-Free Weekend from April 5-7, 2013. Alcohol-Free Weekend is a nationwide event sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), and its purpose is to encourage participants to spend three days seeking out clean and sober fun – no drinks.

Avoiding alcohol is the best way to avoid a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado, which comes with penalties even if you’re not convicted. At the time an arrest is made, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver’s license, making it difficult to get to work, run errands, pick up your children, or attend court dates. While you have the right to a hearing to get your license reinstated, the mere fact of the suspension can make life difficult.

People convicted of DUI in Colorado face heavier penalties. These include possible jail time, fines, required alcohol and/or substance abuse counseling, court costs and fees, and other penalties. They also include a continued suspension or revocation of your license.
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Currently, Colorado treats driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) as a misdemeanor, even if the person convicted of a DUI has several previous DUIs on his or her record. A bill currently being considered in the Colorado legislature, however, would allow some suspected DUIs to be charged as felonies.

The bill applies to “simple” DUI cases that don’t involve an accident or an injury, according to a news report from The Denver Channel. It would allow a DUI conviction to be punished as a felony if the conviction was the driver’s third DUI conviction within seven years or the driver’s fourth DUI conviction in a lifetime.

If convicted of a felony DUI, a driver would face up to one year in prison. Other penalties, like fines, a suspended or revoked driver’s license, mandatory counseling, or the use of an ignition interlock device may also apply. The conviction would also appear on the person’s criminal record as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor.
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A new smartphone app created by a professor at the University of California-Riverside may make it easier for passersby to report drivers whom they believe are driving drunk, according to a recent report in ITWorld.

The app, called “DUICam,” is meant to be used with a dashboard mount for an iPhone or Android device. The phone is mounted to the dashboard and records video of everything that goes on in front of the vehicle. Every 30 minutes, the app automatically deletes the video so that the phone’s memory isn’t overwhelmed – but, if a driver suspects that another person on the road is impaired, he or she can save the video. The app also allows drivers to zoom in and examine license plate numbers and other markings when reporting suspected drunk drivers to police.
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If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado, one of the possible penalties you face if you’re convicted is the requirement of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. An ignition interlock device attaches to your car’s ignition. It requires the driver to give a breath sample, and the sample must be free of alcohol – otherwise the car will not start.

The cost of installing, monitoring, and removing an ignition interlock device is typically paid by the person required to use it, and the costs can be steep. If you’re facing DUI charges in Colorado, it’s important to know when an ignition interlock device might be required and to discuss your case with an attorney in order to understand your rights and prepare an aggressive defense.

Colorado currently requires an ignition interlock device for eight months after a person is convicted of a first DUI, or two years if the person is convicted of a “high BAC” DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17 or greater. Two years using the device are also required for a second or third DUI conviction. For people designated “habitual offenders,” the device may be required for four years.
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