Wedged between I-70 and U.S. Highway 36, Arvada is a popular Denver suburb located just a few miles to the northwest. With more than 124,000 residents, Arvada is also the seventh-largest city in Colorado.
If you’ve been charged with an Arvada DUI, it is absolutely in your best interest to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Despite being a large city with a high crime rate compared to other nearby areas, Arvada police, prosecutors, and judges take DUI offenses very seriously. In fact, even a first-time conviction can land you in jail. At the law firm of Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., our Arvada DUI lawyers aggressively defend clients facing all types of DUIs, including DUI, DWAI, DUID, and DUI per se charges. Contact us today.
Colorado DUI Terminology
While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal across the United States, every state creates its own DUI laws. DUI laws from one state to another can vary significantly. So even if you are familiar with another state’s DUI laws, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the law in Colorado.
The best place to start when learning about DUI laws is by understanding the terms used to describe the various DUI offenses. There are a few types of DUI in Colorado.
DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
Driving under the influence is the most common impaired driving offense. Prosecutors bring DUI charges if someone is “under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs.” To prove a driver is under the influence, prosecutors often rely on blood or breath testing performed at the time of your arrest. However, the government does not need to present chemical test results to prove a DUI case. Instead, the law requires prosecutors to show that you were “substantially incapable” of safely driving a vehicle. For example, prosecutors may rely on a police officer’s observations that you were swerving and unable to maintain a single lane.
DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs)
Driving under the influence of drugs is not a separate criminal charge. However, you should be aware that DUI defense attorneys, judges, and prosecutors often refer to DUIs involving drugs as DUID offenses.
DUI Per Se
If police officers conduct chemical testing at the time of a DUI arrest, and the test results indicate your blood alcohol content (BAC) was greater than .08%, prosecutors may bring DUI per se charges. DUI per se is a type of shortcut for prosecutors because they do not need to establish actual impairment. In other words, driving with a BAC of .08% or more is against the law regardless of whether your driving was impaired by the alcohol or not.
DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired)
Driving while ability impaired is a less serious version of DUI. To find you guilty of DWAI, the government only needs to show that you consumed either drugs, alcohol, or both drugs and alcohol, and you were impaired to the “slightest degree.” Often, prosecutors bring both DUI and DWAI charges because it gives the judge or jury the ability to convict you of a lesser offense if they do not believe the government met its burden for the more serious crime.
Penalties for an Arvada DUI
A DUI conviction can change your life. From hefty fines to probation to jail time, the consequences of a conviction cannot be overstated. In most cases, first-time DUI offenses are misdemeanors. However, the punishment depends on the type of DUI.
DUI, DUID, and DUI Per Se
For a first offense, the punishment for a DUI, DUID, or DUI per se is:
- Five days to one year in jail;
- A fine ranging from $650 to $1,000;
- A minimum of 48 hours of community service.
If your BAC was .20% or more, however, the minimum jail sentence increases from five days to 10 days.
For a first offense, the punishment for a DWAI is:
- Two days to six months in jail;
- A fine ranging between $200 and $500;
- A minimum of 24 hours of community service.
If your BAC was .20% or more, the minimum jail sentence increases to 10 days.
For a second DUI conviction, the punishment for a DUI, DUID, DUI per se, and DWAI are:
- A minimum of 10 consecutive days in jail with a maximum of a year in jail;
- A fine ranging between $650 and $1,500;
- A minimum of 48 hours of community service; and
- Two years of probation.
While Colorado law provides for these “minimum” punishments, in reality, judges can and do use their discretion to fashion a sentence that does not include jail time. For example, if it is your first DUI, the judge may allow you to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation and complete any recommended treatment program in lieu of a jail sentence.
Fighting an Arvada DUI Offense
If you were arrested for an Arvada DUI, it is important that you don’t give up hope. Almost every case has a defense. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you develop the best possible defense based on the specific facts of your case. For example, the following are common defenses in DUI cases:
- Challenging the police officer’s actions leading up to your arrest;
- Challenging the “operation” element of a DUI charge;
- Presenting evidence that you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
- Challenging the blood or breath test results.
However, every DUI case is different, so it is essential that you work with a DUI attorney who has significant experience with a wide range of DUI cases.
Contact the Arvada DUI Attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. for Help Fighting Your Case
If you face a DUI offense, your choice of a criminal defense lawyer is an incredibly important one. While most criminal defense attorneys can competently handle your DUI case, when your future is on the line, you want more than mere competence. At the DUI defense law firm of Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we have decades of experience successfully defending clients in all types of DUI, DWAI, DUID, and DUI per se cases. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help, give us a call.