DUI's and Drunk Driving In Colorado
In Colorado, approximately 26,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) each year. That is roughly one out of every 200 people living in the state. Being charged with DUI does not mean that you are a bad person, and it does not mean that you are guilty of DUI. What it does mean is that you need to prepare and organize your defense. The right attorney can minimize license repercussions, minimize or avoid jail time, and defend against the DUI charges at trial. The attorneys at Hebets & McCallin are prior Deputy District Attorneys and members of the National College of DUI Defense who have over 3 decades of experience defending the rights of those accused of crimes.
Driving cars and socializing over drinks are two of the activities most regularly engaged in by adults. Often, the decision whether to drive after recent drinking is not black and white. While it may be easy to tell if you are completely sober or completely drunk, it may be difficult to tell if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is at a slightly elevated level which could expose you to a DUI or DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) charge. In Colorado, law enforcement will charge DUI even without evidence of impaired driving. A minor traffic violation or a sobriety checkpoint could expose you to a DUI. At Hebets & McCallin, we have successfully defended clients with reported BACs at levels ranging from barely detectable to very high.
Tips to Help You Avoid a DUI in Colorado
What Do You Do If You Are Stopped For DUI?
If you or a loved one was stopped by a police officer and ultimately charged with DUI, it is likely the officer believed you committed a minor traffic infraction, such as speeding, weaving, or not signaling a turn. Although it does not guarantee you will not be stopped, obeying all traffic laws when driving significantly reduces the likelihood of police contact. Police are also legally allowed to stop you for other violations such as an imoperative light, or a cracked or obstructed windshield. Nevertheless, once they make contact, police are trained to look for signs of drinking.
Many of the “signs of drinking” police look for have innocent explanations. The odor of alcohol can linger on your breath long after you finish drinking. Your eyes may be bloodshot or watery from fatigue, allergies, or emotion. You may have difficulty locating your insurance and registration documents because interacting with police makes anyone nervous. These are just some of the things that police take as signs of alcohol impairment, regardless of the actual cause.
If an officer begins to suspect you of being impaired by alcohol, often the officer may ask questions, such as “Have you been drinking?” or “How much have you had to drink?” You are under no legal obligation to answer these questions. Any admission to drinking is another “sign” of impairment police search for. If you did make statements to the police, the attorneys at Hebets & McCallin will work aggressively to ensure your words, which may have been an innocent effort to cooperate, are not distorted by the government.
Standard Field Sobriety Tests
Police often ask drivers suspected of DUI to perform voluntary roadside maneuvers, known elsewhere as "Field Sobriety Tests." These tests require the driver to do things such as follow the officer’s finger with eyes only, walk in a straight line heel-to-toe, and stand on one leg. You are under no legal obligation to perform these maneuvers. As with other “signs” of alcohol impairment, there are innocent explanations for twitching eyes, not being able to walk a perfectly straight line heel-to-toe, and not being able to stand on one leg for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, police interpret these to mean that the driver “failed” the tests—did not complete them “as a sober person would.” If you agreed to perform roadside maneuvers and the police accused you of “failing” the maneuvers, Hebets & McCallin will thoroughly review the documentation and raise all viable defenses to rebut the government’s conclusions.
Under Colorado’s “Expressed Consent” law, you are technically required to submit to a blood or breath test to determine your BAC when a police officer requests that you take a test. If an officer suspects marijuana or other drug impairment, they may legally limit your choice of test to a blood test. Even so, nearly 30% of all DUI cases in Colorado involve drivers who refuse BAC testing. Drivers who refuse chemical testing may be subjected to strict penalties on their drivers’ licenses from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For example, a first time refusal usually results in a one-year license suspension, whereas drivers who submit to BAC testing are typically subjected to shorter suspensions. In either case, obtaining a probationary license with an interlock device installed in your vehicle is often possible. Refusals and DUI charges can also trigger a requirement for SR-22 Insurance. Whether you agreed to BAC testing or not, Hebets & McCallin is ready to assist you in defending both your criminal case and your DMV case.
For those who agree to BAC testing, the government will report what they determine your BAC to be. The average reported BAC for (non-refusal) DUI arrests in the Denver metropolitan area is between 0.160 and 0.180, or slightly more than twice the “legal limit” of 0.08. What we mean by the “limit” is that, in court, a jury is allowed to conclude that a driver was legally intoxicated if the jury concludes that the driver’s BAC was at or above 0.08. This is independent of any evidence of "bad driving." Similarly, a jury is allowed to infer that a driver was legally impaired if the jury first concludes that the driver’s BAC was between 0.05 and 0.08.Please use our handy BAC Calculator (Blood Alcohol Content Calculator)for an estimate of the number of drinks and corresponding blood alcohol content.
Not surprisingly, BAC test results can be very persuasive to juries. People assume that the tests are carefully and scientifically conducted. On the contrary, there are often subtle deficiencies in the testing process which can debunk or cast serious doubt on the reliability of the results. For example, if proper protocols are not followed in drawing or storing a blood sample, BAC can be accidentally overstated. If this happens to you, your actual BAC was lower than what the government claims it was. As members of the National College of DUI Defense Lawyers, the attorneys at Hebets & McCallin understand how BAC testing can go wrong and will carefully assess the test results in your case, often obtaining a second opinion from an independent laboratory.
The possible penalties for DUI vary based on whether it is your first offense, second offense, or if you are charged with Felony DUI. Each DUI case is unique and usually contains a number of defenses to the charge. The benefits of hiring Hebets & McCallin to represent you on your DUI are extensive. Experienced attorneys will assess every aspect of your case, from your initial police contact all the way to the resolution of both your criminal case and your DMV case. Your attorney will conduct further investigation if necessary, file motions in court if necessary, appear with you in court and DMV hearings, conduct negotiations with the prosecutor on your behalf, and, if a favorable disposition cannot be reached pretrial, Hebets & McCallin will take your case to a jury trial. No matter what, you can count attorneys who understand how difficult this DUI case is for you and your family and who will do everything in their power to ensure you receive the best defense to the charge.