DUI or DWAI Near Colorado Springs? A DUI Lawyer Near You Can Help.
In most states in the U.S., being caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 will get you a DUI charge (Driving Under the Influence), which is a very serious traffic violation. In some states, it may even be charged as a felony offense. Colorado is currently proposing a felony DUI law be instated. The problem with felony DUI laws, including Colorado’s proposed law, is that there’s no evidence they are effective in actually reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road or reducing fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents. Colorado has an additional charge, DWAI, Driving While Ability Impaired, which can apply at lower BAC levels if it can be shown that your ability to drive was affected to any degree whatsoever by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, the BAC for DWAI is between .051 and .079, much lower than a DUI. If you’re faced with such a predicament, you need a successful, experienced Colorado DWAI and DUI attorney.
DWAI or DUI: Which Is It?
If you are pulled over and asked to blow into a Breathalyzer or take a blood or urine test, the result will determine if you can be charged for either type of impaired driving. Here in Colorado, if you blow above .08 BAC, you can be charged with DUI. Between .05 and .08 can get you a DWAI charge. This means that you can be charged with a criminal offense for driving home after virtually any social drinking.
Should I Take a Blood Test or a Breath Test if I’m Stopped for a DUI Near Colorado Springs?
Colorado DUI laws are complicated and when you’re being pulled over is no time to try and figure them out. One of the questions we get asked most often is, “what test should I take, or should I even take a test?” First, remember, one of the most important things you can do when being investigated for any crime is make sure you give the State as little evidence as possible. If you are asked to do a voluntary field sobriety test in Colorado, remember, the test is voluntary. You have no obligation to complete them, and regardless of your level of sobriety, you are going to fail. According to one study from Clemson University, officers trained in DUI detection failed to correctly identify those subjects in the study who were too drunk to drive and who was sober 47% of the time. Basically, flipping a coin is as accurate as Colorado’s field sobriety tests. In short, they are designed for you to fail.
So what sobriety test should you complete? I recommend that my clients complete a blood test in nearly every situation. I’ll explain. Certainly, refusing to complete a test will derive the state of evidence that is very helpful in convicting you, namely your blood alcohol level (BAC). You will still be prosecuted and can be convicted of DUI or DWAI in Colorado. Remember, the state doesn’t have to prove your blood alcohol content for you to be found guilty of DUI. Rather, they have to prove that you are substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely because of the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. There’s no number. Moreover, the consequences of a refusal at DMV are severe. Generally, if the revocation is upheld, you will lose your privileges to drive for 1 year, and there is no early reinstatement. With a breath test, we have a much more difficult time disputing the accuracy of the test and the accuracy of the machine. You are not given a second sample to retest at your own laboratory, and we’re forced to rely on the validity of the state’s test. There are also inherent flaws with the principles behind the breath test. The old adage “the harder you blow, the higher you go” has some truth to it. A blood test is superior for several reasons. First, two vials of blood are collected, one for the state, and one for you. This is important, because, unlike a breath test, a DUI law firm near you can and will re-test your blood at our own independent laboratory. It is not uncommon for the two samples to have very different results.
Next, you are making the case more difficult for the state to prosecute. Rather than calling only the two police officers involved in a case with a breath test, the state needs to get the person who tested your blood at the lab in Denver to attend your Colorado Springs DUI trial. They also attempt to get the head of the laboratory to testify and explain the complicated scientific processes that make up gas chromatograph testing. There are very few people working as blood testers and only one head of each lab. Consequently, orchestrating trials with these individuals is difficult, to say the least. Many cases have received very favorable outcomes due to their unavailability. Finally, there is strong evidence that the blood test is more accurate than the breath test in DUI cases. The process to test blood uses very complicated and expensive equipment to test blood alcohol levels, which is incredibly accurate. The breath test uses a relatively inexpensive machine found in every police station in the state. Obviously, a blood test is superior.
 Nowacyk, R. H., Dr. and Cole, S., Dr., Separating Myth from Fact: A Review of Research on the Field Sobriety Tests (The Champion, August 1995).
Penalties For DUI and DWAI In Colorado
Penalties for both DUI and DWAI in Colorado are severe, potentially including stiff fines, community service, suspension of your license, and jail time, even for a first Colorado DUI offense. Penalties become more severe for subsequent DUI and DWAI offenses. To ensure the best outcome for your case, contact a DUI attorney near you at Rodemer | Kane.
Potential Colorado DUI & DWAI Penalties
DUI First Offense
- Up to $1,000 in DUI fines
- Between 5 and 365 days in jail
- As much as 96 hours of community service
- Twelve points on your license
- A nine-month to a one-year suspension of your license
- Substance abuse treatment program, or DUI education classes
- 10 days in jail or work release mandatory if the BAC is above .200
DWAI First Offense
- Fines up to $500
- From 2 to 180 days in jail
- Up to 48 hours of community service
- Eight points on your license
- 10 days in jail or work release mandatory if the BAC is above .200
Second & Third Offenses
- In Colorado, a second offense DUI or DWAI requires a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail/work release, while a third DUI or DWAI offense requires a mandatory minimum of 60 days jail/work release, no good time on the mandatory minimum portion of the sentence.
- All of the requirements of a first offense, with additional alcohol therapy.
- Supervised probation.
- Increased fines.
- Additional consequences against your driver’s license.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer Near You In Colorado?
The cost of hiring a DUI attorney in Colorado Springs can vary greatly, but the reality is that hiring the wrong Colorado DUI attorney may actually end up costing you far more in the long run and may even be worse than hiring no one at all. For this reason, you should at least speak with a skilled attorney before deciding who to hire. But make no mistake, you should not base your choice of an attorney solely on price. Choosing a lawyer is a highly personal decision, and I recommend you sit down with a number of attorneys until you find the one with who you’re most comfortable.
Opting for an affordable DUI lawyer near you might seem tempting, but it can be a mistake and has the potential to make an already bad situation go from bad to worse. Most attorneys will charge a flat fee for representation, but it’s important you know what that flat fee entails. Is there an extra charge for the DMV hearing? What about motions hearings, or trial? In general, I charge a flat fee, which is based on the anticipated work involved in the case. For that reason, there’s not a standard cost, and the fee varies from case to case, depending on a number of factors. Fees are individually tailored based on the case. While my firm isn’t cheapest in town, my fees are in line with the reputation I’ve earned and results I regularly obtain. Because I charge a flat fee, you know precisely what the costs associated with representation will entail. There’s no surprises or hidden fees. The bottom line is that you should never base your choice of an attorney on their price. Keep in mind that there’s a reason some attorneys charge more than others and choosing the wrong attorney to represent you may end up becoming a very expensive mistake. Contact us for a free consultation where we will discuss the fees and clearly lay them out for you.
Do You Need A Colorado Springs DUI or DWAI Attorney?
Because of the severity of the penalties for drinking and driving in Colorado, you should always consult an experienced DUI attorney. You want to avoid jail time and you need to be able to drive to work if you are to continue earning a living. An experienced and knowledgeable Colorado DUI/DWAI attorney in your area can raise many defenses to these charges, and while there is never a guarantee that you’ll get off completely unscathed, the right DUI lawyer can protect your constitutional rights, work to minimize the negative consequences, and sometimes even get the charges dropped.
Your lawyer can require the prosecutor to show that the arrest was proper and that you were informed of your rights. The prosecution must also be able to show that the testing equipment was functioning properly and that the officer was trained and certified to operate it. These are just a few examples of areas where a good lawyer can sometimes have your charges dismissed.
Will Your DUI Case Get Dismissed if the Cop Didn’t Read You Your Miranda Rights?
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether or not the police officer needs to read your rights to you after they contact you for a DUI. Unfortunately, there’s not really an easy answer. The idea of “reading your rights,” or giving the Miranda warning, comes from a 1966 United States Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. The Court held that “the defendant must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 479 (1966). In short, the following nine factors are considered to determine whether or not someone’s in custody for the purposes of Miranda:
- the time, place, and purpose of the encounter;
- the persons present during the interrogation;
- the words spoken by the officer to the defendant;
- the officer’s tone of voice and general demeanor;
- the length and mood of the interrogation;
- whether any limitation of movement or other form of restraint was placed on the defendant during the interrogation;
- the officer’s response to any questions asked by the defendant;
- whether directions were given to the defendant during the interrogation;
- the defendant’s verbal or nonverbal response to such directions.
People v. Hankins, 201 P.3d 1218,1218-1219 (Colo.2009)
Your lawyer can require the prosecutor to show that the arrest was proper and that you were informed of your rights. The prosecution must also be able to show that the testing equipment was functioning properly and that the officer was trained and certified to operate it. These are just a few examples of areas where a good lawyer can sometimes have your charges
Preparing for an Alcohol Evaluation in Colorado
In Colorado, most jurisdictions use the alcohol evaluation to determine the treatment/classes you’ll be required to complete as part of any sentence in a DUI/DWAI case. Generally, the evaluation is completed through the probation department in the jurisdiction where the case is charged, but there are ways to get another jurisdiction to complete a “courtesy evaluation” in the event you live in a different county. Take the evaluation seriously. Show up 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, dress nicely, and by all means, don’t be impaired when you go. Although this sounds like a no-brainer, it happens so frequently that I now warn every client about this. And when I say don’t be impaired, do not have anything to drink in the 24 hours leading up to the evaluation. All too often someone drinks the night before and a probation officer smells it.
The probation department will likely use the Adult Substance Use and Driving Survey, or ASUDS for short to score you on various factors, prior substance use, prior impaired driving, demographics, defensiveness, BAC in the present case, etc. These are the tips we give our clients when they are undergoing an evaluation:
- Be Honest – Don’t go to the evaluation and say you had two beers when your BAC is a .200.
- Don’t Minimize – Ultimately, you are at the evaluation because you have been charged with, and likely are receiving a sentence for a very serious crime. So its important to reflect on that and let the evaluator know that you are well aware of how serious this is and let them know how you’re taking it seriously.
- Stop Drinking – Someone who is able to abstain from alcohol from the date they were charged until the evaluation is completed is certainly less of a risk than someone who has continued to drink, even in light of being charged with an alcohol related offense. The latter will almost certainly be required to complete more treatment than the former.
- Get a Head Start – Once I know that a client is going to be pleading guilty and receive classes/treatment as part of their sentence, I advise them to begin immediately. This way, you’re not just going to the evaluation and telling them that you take this seriously, but you’ve demonstrated that you are in fact taking it seriously.
Remember, by the time you get to the alcohol evaluation, you’ve already pled guilty in most cases, therefore the time to deny the accusations has passed. If you aren’t prepared to go to the evaluation and take your lumps so to speak, you should not have pled guilty in the first place.
What Do I Do if I’m Arrested for DUI or a Drug Crime?
Call us as soon as you can. There are many factors in how you respond in this situation that can affect your outcome. Refusing to take a chemical test, or admitting guilt can cause problems for your case. If you submit to a blood test – you don’t have to do anything within the first 7 days of your case – if you refuse, or did a breath test the officer will give you a Notice of Express Consent immediately. You then have seven days from the date you were arrested to go to DMV and request a hearing. Failure to do so means the revocation of your license will go into effect on the 8th day. Calling us is your best bet for a favorable outcome. If you are in the military, contact a qualified military DUI lawyer near you with an understanding of military law can make all the difference in your case