DUI: Drugs, Alcohol and Driving in Colorado

If arrested for Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Ability Impaired or Driving With Excess Alcohol  (DUI/DUID, DUI per se, or DWAI) in Colorado, you should contact a lawyer immediately.  People arrested in Colorado for any of these charges often must defend two entirely separate legal proceedings: one through the court system and one through the Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles (D.M.V.).  Because the D.M.V. proceeding requires the driver to take the initiative by requesting a hearing with the D.M.V. within seven days of arrest, many drivers wind up losing their driver’s licenses at the D.M.V. long before they ever have their “day in court.”

Colorado’s Express Consent law obligates a driver to submit to drug and/or alcohol testing following a valid arrest for any of these charges.   Failure to cooperate in the testing or test results showing a BAC beyond the legal limit can lead to license revocation before the driver even has his “day in court.”  However, before the arresting officer has a legal right to request an alcohol or drug test, he must have probable cause to arrest the driver and he must follow the other procedures specified by law.  If the arresting officer fails to follow the legal protocol, the driver may have valid defenses to both criminal conviction and to driver’s license revocation.

Following initial license revocation upon arrest, the driver has a right to a hearing in the DMV to determine the validity of  the revocation.  Unless the driver takes the initiative to request that hearing, she loses the right.  Failure to seek effective legal counsel may also jeopardize the driver’s chances of prevailing at the hearing.

DUID charges involve similar considerations for the defendant and his attorney, but also differ substantially from alcohol-related charges.  Such cases are sometimes less difficult to defend than alcohol cases. In alcohol cases, the law presumes the driver was under the influence if her B.A.C. exceeded .08.   In contrast, the law does not create any presumptions of DUID based solely on the level of any other drug present in the driver’s blood. To obtain a conviction in a drug case, the prosecuting attorney will have to prove much more than the amount of any particular drug detected in the driver’s blood.  This requirement creates some potential advantages for the defendant and his attorney. However, any amount of drugs in your system can potentially support a conviction in DUID charges, so it is important for a defendant to consult competent legal counsel. DUI arrests based on drugs have risen sharply in recent years, and are prosecuted vigorously throughout Colorado.

To find out whether you may have a right to a temporary driver’s license and an administrative hearing through the D.M.V., whether you have valid defenses to drug or alcohol driving charges, and for other advise relating to DUI/DUID, DWAI and similar legal matters, please call or visit our offices today.

Posted in General Law Tips