This is My First DUI or DWAI. What Should I Expect?
In Colorado, driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both is prohibited. If convicted of DUI or DWAI, the defendant could face lengthy imprisonment, huge fines, license revocation or suspension, and other administrative penalties. However, the severity of your punishment will depend on your number of prior drunk driving convictions and other surrounding circumstances. Our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys can attempt to speak with you regarding your rights and what to expect when charged with your first DUI or DWAI.
At Hebets & McCallin, we have comprehensive legal guidance and reliable representation to help clients facing DUI/DWAI charges. Also, we can seek to protect your driving privileges and keep your record as clean as possible. Our firm proudly represents clients across Denver, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County, Colorado.
Colorado DUI/DWAI Charges
Depending on the surrounding circumstances of the arrest, a person may be facing DUI or DWAI charges in Colorado.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
A person may be arrested and charged with DUI for driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
A person may be arrested and charged with DWAI for driving a vehicle while "ability impaired" – or slightly impaired – by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Tests and Your Rights
On suspicion of impaired driving, a police officer may pull you over and request a field sobriety test or chemical test. Field sobriety tests are a group of three tests – the horizontal gaze, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand tests - used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is impaired. Under Colorado law, field sobriety tests are voluntary, and taking the tests is not mandatory.
A chemical test – including blood, breath, urine, or saliva test – is usually performed to measure the level of alcohol in your blood, breath, or body. Under Colorado DUI law, blood alcohol tests are mandatory—however, drivers may still refuse to cooperate with a breath or blood test. Any motorist who refuses chemical testing violates their expressed consent law and will face more significant driver's license penalties.
The Process You Will Go Through
According to statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, there were 17,084 total DUI cases statewide in 2021. Here are the processes you'll go through following a DUI arrest:
Arrest and BAC Testing
In Colorado, the DUI court process starts with an arrest. Next, the police officer will take you to the hospital or police station for a chemical test. A sample of your breath, blood, or urine will be obtained to measure the level of alcohol or drugs in your system.
If your BAC is 0.08% or more or between 0.05 and 0.08, you may be facing charges for DUI or DWAI, respectively. The police officer will suspend your driver's license if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. You will be issued an Express Consent Affidavit and Notice of Revocation.
Furthermore, you will have up to seven days to request a hearing with the DMV, where you can challenge your driver's license suspension. Our knowledgeable DUI - 1st offense attorneys can represent you during the DMV hearing and fight to retain your driving privileges.
The DMV Hearing
In Colorado, a DMV hearing is an administrative procedure similar to a court trial. During the hearing, you – or your legal representative – can introduce evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine the arresting officers. Also, you can challenge;
- Whether your BAC level was over the legal limit.
- Whether there was probable cause for your arrest.
- Whether the police officer had a valid reason to stop your vehicle.
The DMV hearing officer will determine whether to restore or suspend your driving privileges. A skilled lawyer can help present your case diligently during the DMV hearing and improve your chances of the best possible outcome.
However, regardless of whether you win or lose your DMV hearing, you will be charged in court. During the court proceedings, the judge will state your criminal charges and possible penalties. Here are the possible outcomes:
- If you plead guilty or no contest, the judge will find you guilty and impose the proposed penalties.
- If you request a continuance, your case will proceed to pre-trial, where all the evidence will be reviewed. The judge will often grant continuances to allow you to consult with an attorney.
- If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for a dispositional hearing and trial date.
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can enlighten you about the consequences of your choice, build a strong defense for your case, and fight aggressively to defend your rights and driving privileges.
Possible Penalties for First Offense
The possible penalties for a first-time DUI/DWAI offense in the state of Colorado include:
- Jail time
- Massive fines
- License suspension
- Mandatory ignition interlock device
- Mandatory community service
Other consequences include:
- A criminal record/history
- Increased difficulty in securing employment, housing, or public benefits
- Increased auto insurance premiums
- Loss of your rights to possess or carry firearms
- Ineligibility to obtain certain financial loans
- Loss of scholarships or university acceptance
- Deterioration of professional relationships
If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with DUI or DWAI, you need to reach out to our highly-skilled DUI defense attorneys immediately.
How Hebets & McCallin Can Help
A first DUI or DWAI conviction in Colorado can cause devastating, immediate life-long consequences on your personal reputation, freedom, quality of life, professional and future opportunities. While fighting your impaired driving charges can help avoid severe punishment and consequences, navigating the criminal justice system alone is never advisable. Therefore, it is crucial to retain our skilled criminal defense attorneys for proper guidance.
Never plead guilty to a DUI/DWAI charge or accept the prosecutor's plea bargain without a fight. Contact Hebets & McCallin today to schedule a simple case evaluation with our knowledgeable DUI/drunk driving defense attorneys. Our trusted team has the reliable advocacy and aggressive representation you deserve. We're proud to represent clients across Denver, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County, Colorado.