Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
How to win a DMV administrative hearing in Colorado
In DUI criminal cases, the stakes are serious – the defendant could go to jail if convicted. Therefore, the prosecutor has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – which is a very high bar.
But in administrative hearings – where only the defendant’s driver’s license is on the line – the state has a much lower burden. The state just has to show the DMV that it was more likely than not (“by a preponderance of the evidence”) that the defendant was in physical control of the vehicle while impaired or with an illegal BAC (blood alcohol level) level.
Therefore, it is not unusual for DUI defendants to win their criminal trial while losing their DMV administrative hearing based on the exact same evidence. But even though DMV hearings may be difficult to win, it is not impossible.
The most effective defenses to DUI allegations always turn on the specific facts of the case. Ten potential defense strategies include:
Depending on the case, potential evidence can include eyewitness testimony, surveillance video, breathalyzer maintenance records, and/or medical records.
No, Colorado DUI defendants must request an administrative hearing in order to contest their license suspension. If the defendant took a breath test (or refused to take any test), the defendant must request a DMV hearing within 7 days from the arrest. If the defendant does not request a hearing, the license suspension begins after the seventh day.
If the defendant took a blood test following the DUI arrest, he/she may keep his/her driver’s license until the blood test results come back. At that point, the defendant has 10 days after the letter was sent to request a hearing. If the defendant does not request the hearing, then the license begins after the 10th day.
Note that people who lose their DMV hearings can appeal.
Learn about the lengths of driver’s license revocations in Colorado DUI cases.
Yes, if at all possible. Having an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney increases the odds of winning DMV hearings. And in practice, administrative judges take defendants more seriously if they are represented by counsel.
Plus, the DMV hearing is a good dry run for the DUI criminal case. Even though the DMV case is far more informal than a criminal trial, the DMV hearing is a valuable setting for the defense lawyer to test certain arguments and probe the police’s testimony. This can help the attorney determine how best to fight the charges in the criminal case.
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.
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