A DUI conviction can carry severe consequences. You can face jail time, substantial fines, and even lose your license. If the police charge you with DUI in Thornton, Colorado, you need an experienced DUI lawyer.
The professionals at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are experienced Thornton DUI attorneys. We have decades of criminal defense experience and have successfully brought many cases to trial. We are not afraid to stand up for your rights. If you face charges for a DUI offense, contact us today for a free case review.
When Can Colorado Charge You with Drunk Driving?
In Colorado, it is a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Colorado breaks drunk driving into two distinct offenses—DUI and DWAI.
What Is DUI?
In Colorado, DUI means that drugs or alcohol renders a driver substantially incapable of exercising clear judgment to operate a vehicle. The State can prove DUI by a scientific blood or breath test or through observation.
Nevertheless, to win a conviction, the State must prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08% or more, and they must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Is DWAI or DWI?
DWAI means that a person operated a vehicle while using alcohol or drugs. The State must prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—that your ability to drive was at least slightly affected by the use of drugs or alcohol. It must impact you by making you at least slightly less able than you normally would be to safely control the car.
What Is Zero Tolerance?
Colorado is a zero-tolerance state. Therefore, a person under 21 years old cannot drive a vehicle after consuming any alcohol at all. That means someone under 21 cannot have a BAC of more than .02%.
How Can the State Prove DUI?
For DUI, the State needs to show that your BAC was at .08% or higher. Therefore, the State generally relies on breath tests. In addition to breath tests, the State may even use retrograde extrapolation. Retrograde extrapolation is a process by which law enforcement attempts to use your breath test to estimate what your BAC was at the time you were driving—which could be an hour to several hours before you took the breath test.
For example, when the police administer a breath or even blood test hours after arrest, your BAC may register as less than .08%. Since that is under the DUI limit, the State might claim that your BAC dropped during the hours between arrest and testing. They then might attempt to estimate what your BAC was at the time you were pulled over.
However, breath tests have been shown to have serious reliability issues. In fact, many say that they are inherently unreliable. Additionally, this process of retrograde extrapolation is filled with assumptions that may not be true. If the State attempts to use a breath test to convict you, the results could be challenged. And if the State uses retrograde extrapolation, it is even more unreliable and should be challenged in court.
If you took one of these tests, contact Thornton DUI lawyers today. An experienced DUI lawyer can fight dubious test results that threaten to negatively impact your life.
Do You Have to Take a DUI Test?
Colorado is an express consent state. You gave the State permission to conduct a DUI test—blood or breath—upon request by driving on Colorado roads. Nevertheless, the statute does not give police carte blanche authority to take your blood. Police must have probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence. Without probable cause, a DUI lawyer can get the test thrown out.
Nonetheless, the statute requires that you assist law enforcement by taking the test within two hours. The statute also requires that law enforcement give the test within two hours—unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
What Happens if You Refuse a DUI Test?
If you do not submit to a DUI test, then the department of motor vehicles can revoke your driver’s license for one year. However, you can request a hearing where your attorney can dispute your driver’s license revocation. But you only have seven days to request a hearing, so act quickly.
What Is the Punishment for Drunk Driving?
A DUI conviction has serious ramifications. Punishment depends on your BAC, history of DUI, and whether your alleged drunk driving caused an accident.
DUIs carry a mandatory term of five days to one year in jail. However, the court can suspend the jail sentence if you agree to undergo a substance abuse evaluation or treatment. You may also face a $1,000 fine. The court can also impose up to 96 hours of community service.
Furthermore, if your BAC is .20% or more, the court can impose a lengthier jail sentence. The court can also impose up to two years of probation.
A second DUI conviction carries 10 days to one year in the county jail. Also, you can face a $1,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, and two years of probation. A third or subsequent conviction elevates jail time to 60 days.
What Is Probation?
If the court sentences you to probation, it can order you to:
- Report regularly to your probation officer;
- Report to court at any time;
- Participate in substance abuse treatment;
- To purchase and use an ignition interlock device; and
- Submit to alcohol and drug testing.
While probation may be better than jail, it is cumbersome and costly. Contact Thornton DUI lawyers to learn how to avoid probation.
DUI Driver’s License Suspensions
A DUI conviction can result in a nine-month to one-year driver’s license suspension, but we may be able to help you keep your driver’s license. Furthermore, under the reformed laws, we can help you apply for a restricted driver’s license. A restricted driver’s license will allow you to travel to work. Contact DUI criminal defense attorneys to learn more about restricted licenses.
Do You Need a Thornton DUI Defense Attorney?
People often think DUI is open and shut just because a machine read that your BAC was over the limit. However, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove drunk, and a machine is fallible. An experienced DUI attorney knows how to challenge these breath or blood tests. Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are experienced criminal defense attorneys. We have decades of trial experience and are not afraid to fight for you in court. Contact us today for a free case review.
Our experienced legal team handles other types of cases as well, including: