If you are like many people, a first DUI offense is your first and only contact with the criminal justice system. Therefore, you may not know what options you have or what to do next. The fear of the unknown and the reality of an uncertain future can be overwhelming.
Facing a DUI charge does not mean you’re now a bad person or a criminal. It just means you need sound legal advice from a trusted source. Colorado Springs DUI attorneys Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are aggressive criminal defense lawyers who understand what’s at stake for you and your family. Their vast experience and track record of success may give you the best chance to achieve a positive outcome. Contact them today.
Colorado’s DUI Law
Colorado has one of the most comprehensive DUI statutes in the country. According to Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-1301, you could face DUI charges for driving:
- Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both;
- With your ability impaired (DWAI); or
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit—called DUI per se.
Your first and second DUI offenses are traffic misdemeanors. Your third DUI offense is a Class 4 felony charge.
DUI means driving after consuming alcohol, drugs, or both. Doing this prevents you from exercising clear judgment while driving and lessens your ability to control the vehicle safely.
DWAI is slightly different. DWAI means “driving while ability impaired.” This is when the consumption of drugs or alcohol impairs your ability to drive to the “slightest degree” such that you are “less able” than you ordinarily would be to drive. So even if you only had one or two drinks that bring your BAC to .04%, that may not qualify as DUI, but it could qualify as DWAI. To prove DWAI, the prosecutor must prove that your driving ability was, in fact, impaired at least a little.
Conversely, DUI per se means driving with a BAC equal to or greater than 0.08%. When you register .08% or above, you have broken the law regardless of whether your ability to drive was actually impaired. The test result is only valid if taken within 2 hours of driving.
The prosecution can use any one or all three DUI theories against you.
Colorado DUI Penalties
The possible sentences for DUI and DUI per se differ from DWAI. For either a DUI or DUI per se first offense, you face up to a year in jail and a $600 fine. The law says you have to go to jail for five days unless you attend and complete an alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment. You also have to perform community service. The minimum jail time increases to 10 days if your BAC exceeds 0.20%.
The penalty for DWAI is not as harsh. The maximum jail time is 180 days, and the minimum jail time is two days. The fine ranges from $200 to $500, and you have to perform some community service. The penalties increase with subsequent convictions.
The Colorado DMV will suspend your driver’s license as well. As experienced Colorado Springs defense attorneys, we can work with you to get your license back or appeal the DMV’s decision to suspend your license.
DUI Defense Strategies
We will scrutinize every police report, chemical test report, and all physical evidence the prosecution wants to use against you for weaknesses. We also want to show the jury your best attributes to demonstrate that you deserve the benefit of the doubt. Depending on the facts of your case, we can highlight favorable evidence that shows you:
- Pulled over right away after the police signaled;
- Steered your car safely to the side of the road;
- Spoke politely with the police;
- Knew where you kept your license, insurance card, and auto registration; and
- Were cooperative and followed the officer’s instructions.
If you were in an accident, we might be able to show the other driver who caused the crash, for example. Here are some additional defenses.
Discrediting police testimony is one criminal defense strategy we can use. Showing a jury that they cannot trust a police officer’s testimony might go a long way toward winning your case. We know from handling numerous DUI cases that some officers make many DUI arrests, and some use almost identical reports for every DUI stop.
What are the implications of that? We may be able to show that the officer doesn’t remember the exact details of your arrest, but merely copied sections of old reports to create your charging document. Anything that shows the jury that the officer was sloppy or took shortcuts can add up to reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds.
Discrediting Field Sobriety and Chemical Tests
The law in Colorado allows prosecutors in Colorado to admit refusal evidence against you in court. If you refuse the field sobriety tests, the prosecutors can argue that you didn’t take the tests because you were drunk and knew you’d fail them.
Field sobriety tests are fallible. They can be administered wrongly, or the officer can misinterpret the results. Also, you might have a physical reason why you can’t perform field sobriety tests as directed that has nothing to do with consuming alcohol.
Falling a chemical test does not mean you are guilty either. Breathalyzer tests are notoriously unreliable. They’re just computers, after all, and computers glitch and fail all the time. Operator or program errors can lead to inaccurate results that we can challenge.
Motions to Suppress
As aggressive criminal defense attorneys, we may find grounds for a motion to suppress evidence against you. For example, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. You could win your case if we successfully argue that the police officer illegally stopped you.
Also, the police have to read you your Miranda rights if they have you in custody and ask you questions designed to get you to incriminate yourself. Routine booking questions do not fall under this category. But suppose an officer asks, How much have you had to drink tonight? Your Miranda rights say that if you are not free to leave (i.e., you’re in custody), you have the right to remain silent and ask for your attorney. If officers do not respect that request and honor your silence—or if they didn’t read Miranda warnings to you at all—they may have violated your rights. Any evidence gotten in this manner can be excluded from trial.
Why a Colorado Springs DUI attorney from Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. Is The Right Choice
Call us today for experienced, skilled, and aggressive DUI representation. We offer free consultations and give our clients our cell phone numbers so you can contact us anytime. Our lawyers made the Colorado SuperLawyers list, have a 5.0 out of 5.0 AVVO rating, and appear on the list of Best Lawyers in America. We’ve got the experience you can trust. Contact us today.
Our experienced legal team handles many types of cases, including: