Denver DUI / DWAI Defense Attorneys

Updated

Can my case get dismissed?

Possibly. There are many potential ways to fight DUI/DWAI charges. Just five common defense strategies include:

  1. The police administered the field sobriety tests incorrectly.
  2. The breath or blood testing equipment was mishandled or defective.
  3. The defendant's medical condition mimicked intoxication.
  4. Law enforcement had no probable cause for the traffic stop.
  5. The sobriety checkpoint was unconstitutional.

If prosecutors see their evidence is insufficient, they may drop the charge. Or they may reduce it to a lesser offense such as reckless driving (42-4-1401 C.R.S.).

There is also the option of going to trial. As long as the defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt, the court should acquit the defendant. But in practice, most DUI/DWAI cases resolve through negotiations alone.

Will I lose my license?

First-time DUIs carry a 9-month license suspension. But defendants may contest the suspension at a DMV hearing.

DMV hearings are administrative trials separate from the criminal matter. They are valuable opportunities to cross-examine the arresting officer. And depending on the case, the judge may find in the driver's favor.

Even if the license does get suspended, DUI-1st defendants can usually resume driving after 1 month. They would just need to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed. This is a breathalyzer that keeps the car from starting if it detects alcohol. Then if the driver uses the IID correctly for 4 months, the license will be fully reinstated.

Note that DWAIs carry no license suspension. Refusing to take a breath or blood test carries a 1-year suspension for a first violation. And drivers under 21 arrested for underage drinking and driving (UDD) face a 3-month suspension for a first violation.

Will I go to jail?

Courts rarely impose jail for first-time misdemeanor DUIs unless the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.20% or higher. And it may be possible to get drunk/drugged driving charges lessened or dropped completely.

Otherwise, the sentence depends on whether the charge is for:

  1. DUI,
  2. DWAI,
  3. UDD, or
  4. Felony DUI

1. DUI penalties

First-time DUI or DUI per se

Misdemeanor:

  • 5 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600 to $1,000 in fines;
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service; and
  • 9-month license suspension

Defendants with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.15% are labeled as a persistent drunk driver (PDD) and sentenced as repeat-DUI offenders.

Second-time DUI or DUI per se

Misdemeanor:

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines;
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service;
  • 1-year license suspension; and
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years

Third-time DUI or DUI per se

Misdemeanor:

  • 60 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600 in $1,500 in fines;
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service;
  • 2-year license suspension; and
  • Ignition interlock device for 2 years

Fourth or subsequent DUI or DUI per se

Class 4 Felony:

2. DWAI penalties

First-time DWAI

Misdemeanor:

  • 2 to 180 days in jail;
  • $200 to $500 in fines;
  • 24 to 48 hours of community service; and
  • 8 DMV points

Second-time DWAI

Misdemeanor:

  • 10 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600 tp $1,500 in fines;
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service; and
  • 8 DMV points

Third-time DWAI

Misdemeanor:

  • 60 days to 1 year in jail;
  • $600 to $1,500 in fines;
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service; and
  • 8 DMV points

Fourth or subsequent DWAI

Class 4 Felony:

  •  2 to 6 years prison; and/or
  • $2,000 to $500,000 in fines

3. UDD penalties

First-time UDD

Class A traffic infraction:

  • $150 in fines;
  • 24 hours of community service;
  • 3-month license suspension; and
  • 4 DMV points

Second or subsequent UDD

Class 2 traffic misdemeanor:

  • 10 to 90 days in jail;
  • $150 to $300 in fines;
  • 48 to 120 hours of community service;
  • 6-month license suspension;
  • 4 DMV points; and
  • Possibly alcohol evaluation and treatment

4. Penalties for DUI causing serious injury or death

Vehicular assault (18-3-205 C.R.S.)

Class 4 felony:

  • 2 to 6 years in prison; and/or
  • $2,000 to $500,000 in fines

Vehicular homicide (18-3-106 C.R.S.)

Class 3 felony:

  • 4 to 12 years in prison; and/or
  • $3,000 to $750,000 in fines

How long do DUI cases take?

It varies but on average three-to-six months.

The first step in the DUI court process is the arraignment. This is a short hearing where the defendant is formally charged. But if the defendant has an attorney, he/she can have the arraignment vacated and proceed to a pretrial conference.

The pretrial conference is where the defense attorney negotiates with the prosecutor. The defense attorney will point out all the deficiencies and problems in the case. And hopefully the D.A. will respond by offering a dismissal or favorable plea deal.

If negotiations stall, the court can then set the matter for trial. Sometimes, the very act of trial preparation makes prosecutors realize their case is too weak to sustain a conviction. And they may ultimately give in and drop or reduce the charges.

Can I get the record sealed?

DUI/DWAI convictions may never be sealed under Colorado law. But under certain conditions, convictions for UDD or juvenile DWAI may be expunged.

Note that DUI/DWAI charges that get dismissed can usually be sealed right away. The only exception is if the case was dismissed because of a deferred judgment.

When is DUI a felony?

There are three ways that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs becomes a felony:

  1. The defendant has three (3) prior convictions for DUI, DWAI, or UDD; or
  2. The defendant's driving caused serious bodily injury (vehicular assault); or
  3. The defendant caused a fatal accident (vehicular homicide)

In addition to the fines and prison time discussed above, felony DUI convictions result in a loss of gun rights.

Is DUI the same as DWAI?

No. DUI stands for "driving under the influence." It typically applies to drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher. Even if they are driving safely, having an illegal BAC level is automatically ("per se") illegal.

Meanwhile, DWAI stands for "driving while ability impaired." This typically applies to drivers with a BAC of at least .05% but less than .08%.

Predictably, DWAI carries lesser penalties than DUI. And unlike DUI, DWAI does not require a mandatory license suspension.

What if I was driving under the influence of marijuana?

Colorado punishes drugged driving identically to drunk driving. The only difference is that drivers suspected of being high are required to take a blood test. They cannot elect to take a breath test instead.

Learn more about DUI of marijuana and DUI of drugs (DUID).

What are the immigration consequences?

DUI generally is not deportable. Therefore, non-citizens convicted of it usually will not be removed from the U.S. once they finish their sentence.

However, immigration law is always changing. Therefore, aliens facing criminal charges are encouraged to consult with an attorney right away. The attorney can help determine whether the case threatens the person's resident status.

Contact Us For Help...

We understand the stress that goes with a Colorado drugged or drunk driving arrest and its potential consequences. But your case can be challenged in both criminal court and the DMV.

At CLDG, 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.

Getting arrested for DUI/DWAI can make you feel very alone. But you are not. According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, there were 27,244 DUI charges just in 2016.

To learn more about Colorado DUI, DWAI, and underage drinking and driving laws, we invite you to browse the articles on our site. Or 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
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330

Arrested in California? Learn about California DUI laws.

Arrested in Nevada? Learn about Nevada DUI laws.

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The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

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Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

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