Colorado does not take DUI charges lightly. A Colorado DUI conviction can lead to jail time, expensive fines, cumbersome probation, and loss of your driver’s license. If police charge you with a DUI offense, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is not afraid to fight for your rights.
The professionals at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are experienced Westminster DUI attorneys. We have decades of trial litigation experience and are not afraid to fight for you in court. Contact us today.
Is Drunk Driving the Same As Driving While Impaired (DWAI)?
Colorado breaks drunk or intoxicated driving into two distinct offenses—driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWAI).
What Is the Difference Between DUI and DWAI?
DUI and DWAI are similar. The difference is the amount of alcohol you consume and your driving ability.
What Is DUI?
DUI means that you drove while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For DUI, the prosecutor must show that alcohol or drugs left you “substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
The prosecutor has two methods to prove DUI. First, the prosecutor can introduce scientific evidence that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was over .08%. The scientific evidence presented is usually the blood or breath tests that the police asked you to perform during your arrest.
Second, the prosecutor can prove DUI by observation. Police officers usually give proforma testimony. The officers will tell the court that through their training and experience, they knew you committed DUI because:
- You were driving erratically;
- They smelled alcohol on your breath;
- You fumbled around looking for your driving credentials;
- Your speech was slurred;
- Your eyes were bloodshot; and
- You stumbled when you got out of the vehicle.
However, an experienced DUI attorney will know how to attack the officer’s credibility when they offer this standard testimony.
What Is DWAI?
The legislature wrote an expansive definition of DWAI. Therefore, it is easier for the state to prove DWAI than DUI.
Under the legislature’s definition, a court can find you guilty of DWAI if alcohol or drugs affects your ability to drive in “the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
Prosecutors often charge DWAI and DUI to strong-arm you into a plea or force a jury to come back with a conviction. Unlike DUI, the prosecutor proves DWAI primarily with circumstantial evidence. Same as above, your arresting officer will offer standard testimony about how they knew you were driving under the influence because of their “training and experience.”
However, a seasoned DUI lawyer can attack the officer’s observations and credibility. Your criminal defense lawyers can also offer evidence and call expert witnesses that refute the officer.
What Is the Punishment for DUI?
DUI convictions have grave consequences. Depending on the circumstances, you can face jail time, extensive fines, and the loss of your driver’s license.
First DUI Offense
For a first conviction, you can face a minimum of five days in jail with a maximum of one year. Although, the court can suspend the sentence if you participate in a treatment program. You may also face up to a $1,000 fine, 96 hours of public service, and two years of probation.
Second DUI Offense
You can face a minimum of 10 days in jail up to a maximum of a year. You’ll also face a fine of up $1500, 48 – 120 hours of public service, and two years of probation for a second offense. Like the first offense, the court can suspend the jail sentence and require you to participate in substance abuse treatment.
Third and Subsequent DUI
You can face 60 days to one year in jail for third and subsequent convictions. You may also face a fine of up to $1,500, 48 – 120 hours of public service, and two years of probation.
Do You Lose Your License After a DUI Conviction?
After a DUI conviction, Colorado law requires the department of motor vehicles to revoke your license. Depending on the circumstances, you can lose your driver’s license for one to two years. Nevertheless, a DUI lawyer can help you apply for a hardship license.
What About the DUI Tests?
Colorado is an express consent state. If the police have probable cause to believe that you committed DUI, they can compel you to perform a blood or breath test. Nevertheless, only under limited circumstances can the police force you to take a DUI test against your will. For example, if you are unconscious, the police can take a blood sample. Also, if the officer has probable cause to believe that your alleged drunk driving caused a homicide, they can use physical force for a test.
What If You Refuse To Take a DUI Test?
DUI tests—especially breath—are inherently unreliable. In specific circumstances, you can refuse to take a DUI test. However, before you refuse a DUI test, you should consult with a DUI defense attorney.
Nevertheless, if you refuse a test, the department of motor vehicles may revoke your license. However, the law entitles you to a hearing. Under Colorado law, you must request a hearing within seven days of notice that the department of motor vehicles revoked your license.
Do You Need Westminster DUI Defense Attorney?
Do not let the prosecutor tell you that you must take the first deal they offer because a machine allegedly showed you were drunk. DUI testing is inherently unreliable.
A seasoned criminal defense attorney will fight to protect your rights and keep your driver’s license. At Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., we are seasoned Westminster DUI lawyers. We have decades of trial experience and are not afraid to fight for your rights in court. No matter what you are charged with or the circumstances of your case, we are ready to stand next to you and fight to protect your rights and freedom. Contact us today for a free case review.
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