Colorado DUI cases are rarely hopeless. The police often fail to follow proper procedures during DUI investigations. Colorado DUI breath tests and blood tests are prone to error. Experienced drunk and drugged driving defense lawyers use these errors to craft the best defense to Colorado DUI charges.
Many people assume their case is unwinnable.
Most of them are wrong.
If you or someone you know has been charged in Denver or Golden with DUI, DWAI, UDD, Excess BAC CDL, or any other drunk or drugged driving charges, we invite you to contact us to discuss your case. We offer free initial consultations and flexible payment options. Call us or email us to learn how we can fight to help you keep your license and avoid a criminal record.
To learn more about specific DUI charges, visit our section on Colorado DUI offenses A to Z.
Charges We Defend
Charges our Colorado drunk driving lawyers defend include (without limitation):
- Driving under the influence (DUI);
- Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID);
- Driving with excessive alcohol content (DUI per se);
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI);
- Underage drinking and driving (UDD);
- Excess BAC CDL;
- Chemical test refusals;
- Vehicular assault, and
- Vehicular homicide.
The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates that the total costs of a first-time DUI conviction exceed $10,200. An experienced Colorado DUI attorney can often help prove that you were innocent – or fight to get the charges reduced and preserve your right to drive.
How We Fight Colorado DUI and DWAI Charges
A Colorado DUI case can, at times, seem hopeless. But fighting the charges almost always makes more sense than simply pleading guilty.
We look at every case individually by visiting the location and conducting a thorough review of the arresting officers' background and incident report. Where applicable, we conduct an independent analysis of your blood sample and examine the maintenance history of your Breathalyzer or other DUI testing equipment.
Colorado DUI breath and blood tests are prone to errors -- from contamination of samples to the failure of officers to comply strictly with standardized procedures. And most officers are no better than the average person at judging when a person is too drunk or stoned to drive.
Our job is to understand your story – and to present it in the best light to the prosecutor and DMV examiner and, if necessary, the jury.
In short, we will do everything possible to help you avoid a conviction and keep your Colorado driver's license. We also offer feed and candid second opinions about your likelihood of prevailing in court and at the Colorado DMV.
To help you better understand what to expect if you've been arrested for drunk driving in Colorado, our caring Colorado DUI defense lawyers walk you through the Colorado DUI process, below.
The DUI Traffic Stop
Most Colorado DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop. The officer will usually ask you some questions, designed to allow the officer to examine you and determine whether or not it is reasonable to believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (probable cause). Legally, you are only required to provide your name, your driver's license and your registration. You want to say as little as possible that could incriminate you. However, it is often a good idea to politely tell the officer that you would prefer not to answer questions.
The officer may then ask you to take a preliminary breath test ("PBT") and/or to perform a set of roadside maneuvers known as field sobriety tests ("FST"s). Unless you are under 21, you may legally decline to take these tests. However, IF the officer actually advises you of your Express Consent rights (as discussed below), or places you under arrest, you may not refuse to take a Colorado DUI chemical test without incurring significant penalties -- including an automatic suspension of your Colorado driver's license and designation as a Colorado persistent drunk driver.
If you choose to take the preliminary breath test and blow less than .05% blood alcohol content (BAC), the police will usually let you go, assuming you are 21 or over. If you blow .08% or more on the PBT, however, the officer will usually place you under arrest.
If, however, you blow between .05% and .08%, or you refuse to take the preliminary breath test, the officer will make a judgment call. He or she may let you go with a warning, or may place you under arrest.
Drivers under the age of 21 will be cited for under Colorado's underage drinking and driving law if a breath test shows a BAC of .02% or higher.
The DUI Arrest and Chemical Test (Express Consent Law)
Once an officer determines that there is probable cause that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Colorado's Express Consent law applies. At this time, you may not legally refuse a chemical test without consequences. Unless the officer suspects drug use (which requires a blood test), you must be offered the choice of a Colorado DUI breath test or DUI blood test. If you choose a blood test, two vials of blood will be taken. One will be be sent by the police for testing by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The other will be retained and can, at your expense, be re-tested by an independent laboratory of your choosing.
If your breath test showed a BAC of .08% or over, or if you refused to take the test, the police will take your Colorado driver's license to mail to the DMV. If you were arrested on misdemeanor DUI or DWAI charges, you may be released to a friend or family member or taken to a detox facility after you are processed. However, it is completely within the officer's discretion whether or not to release you or book you into jail. Upon your release, the police will give you a citation to appear in court. Unless you are subject to automatic suspension of your driver's license (for instance, because you refused to take a chemical test), you may also be given a temporary license allowing you to drive until your DMV hearing (if you choose to have one).
If you were arrested for a felony, you may have to post bail before you can be released. In Colorado, bail in DUI cases can take the form of cash bond, a “personal recognizance bond,” or be posted by a professional surety. A personal recognizance bond is simply a legally enforceable promise to appear in court as set forth on your citation without you or your family having to put up any money first. Our Colorado DUI lawyers can guide you through the Colorado bail process, if needed.
The Colorado DMV Hearing
If your BAC comes back at 0.08 or above, or if you refused to take a chemical test, the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles will initiate a civil administrative hearing. You have just 7 days to request a hearing from the DMV. You must request this hearing in person and in writing at a DMV office
If you do not request a hearing within 7 days (or you do not show up for your hearing), your license will automatically be suspended -- but if you have hired an attorney, the attorney can appear on your behalf. The suspension will last for 9 months if it is your first conviction, or one year if it is your first chemical test refusal. Subsequent convictions and/or refusals are subject to longer suspensions.
We recommend that, if offered a choice, you choose an in-person hearing and not a telephone hearing. It is far more difficult for your attorney to argue your case successfully over the phone.
You also have the option to have the arresting officer testify at your hearing. While some lawyers recommend that you request the officer's presence at the hearing, it most cases we counsel against it (we can subpoena the officer to testify later).
However, there may be times when it is in your interest to have the officer testify so that we can cross-examine the officer and present evidence that contradicts his or her account.. This is just one of the reasons why retaining an experienced Colorado DUI lawyer before your DMV hearing is so important. Your DUI attorney can recommend the best course of action for your particular situation.
An attorney can also be of great assistance in making the case that in the event the DMV hearing officer's decision goes against you, you should nevertheless be either:
- Granted a Colorado probationary driver’s license (“PDL”) – typically referred to as a “red” license, which will give you the right to drive within the state of Colorado for essential necessities, such as travel to and from work, school, court, and court-approved alcohol or drug education and treatment; or
- Have your license reinstated after it has been suspended for the minimum required time (two months for a first DUI) with an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
DUI Court Proceedings
In Colorado, the DUI court process consists of up to five basic steps:
- Pre-trial conference,
- Suppression hearing,
- Trial, and
When you are charged with a Colorado drinking and driving offense, your citation will contain a date for your first court appearance, known as the “arraignment.” For a misdemeanor DUI, the arraignment will usually take place in county court 30-60 days after your arrest. Felony charges typically result in a District Court case.
If you do not appear at your arraignment, the police will issue a warrant for your arrest. However, if you have retained a lawyer, he or she can have the arraignment vacated and proceed immediately to a pre-trial conference.
Otherwise, at your arraignment, you will be advised of the charges against you and the possible penalties. You may also be given the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor to discuss a plea. If a deal is reached, your case will be set for sentencing. If you reject the prosecutor's offer, your case will be set for trial.
The Pre-Trial Conference
The pre-trial conference is where your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor for a dismissal or reduction of the charges. If they are unable to come to an agreement, your case will proceed to the pre-trial motions stage.
The Suppression Hearing
The suppression hearing is an opportunity for your attorney to move that the court dismiss some or all of the evidence against you. This court may grant this motion if your traffic stop or arrest was illegal or your constitutional rights were otherwise violated.
If evidence is excluded, this will often lead to dismissal of your case or a better plea offer. If the court denies your motion, however, and your attorney cannot reach a deal with the prosecutor, your case will be set for trial.
This can often present an opportunity for your lawyer to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement, especially if the court has a heavy backlog of cases. In addition, once a trial D.A. takes a hard look at the case, deficiencies in the prosecution's case may become more readily apparent.
The DUI Trial
A DUI or DWAI trial typically takes place 4-6 months after your arrest. It might take longer to set your case for trial, however, depending on the court's caseload in your jurisdiction.
You will be offered the choice of a “bench trial” or a jury trial. If you elect a bench trial, the judge alone will hear and decide your case. If you select a jury trial, your case will be tried in front of 6 jurors, who must agree unanimously on the verdict.
The standard of proof in a DUI criminal case is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If all six jurors do not agree, the judge will declare a mistrial and sentence a new trial. This can often be an opportunity for your lawyer to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement.
If you are convicted of DUI, or the lesser offense of DWAI, the judge will sentence you as permitted by law. Sentences for DUI can include jail time and/or a fine and/or suspension of your Colorado driver's license, even if the Colorado DMV did not suspend it.
Alternatively, the judge may defer your sentencing and place you on probation in order to allow you to complete alcohol evaluation and treatment. If you successfully complete a court-approved alcohol treatment program and comply with all other terms of your probation, the court will often dismiss or reduce the charges.
Contact Us For Help...
At the Colorado Legal Defense Group we understand the stress that goes with a Colorado drugged or drunk driving charge and its potential consequences.
Even if you tested over Colorado's legal limit, your DUI case can be challenged. Before you lose your license and face the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
We make you this solemn promise: if we become your lawyers, we will devote our best efforts to obtaining the best possible result in your Colorado DUI case. Whether that means negotiating a plea agreement or fighting your case in front of a jury, we will do what is best for you.
To learn more about Colorado DUI, DWAI and underage drinking and driving laws, we invite you to browse the articles on our site. Or to schedule your free telephone or in-person consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer, simply fill out the form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street ste. 400
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
Arrested in Nevada? Go to our Nevada DUI laws article.