DUI/DRUNK DRIVING ATTORNEYS IN DENVER, 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.
A Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer can defend you if you have been criminally charged in the state of Colorado. An experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer can assemble a good defense for you and will try to ensure that the prosecution either has to reduce or drop your charges. If you have been arrested for allegedly committing a crime in Colorado, don't expect to be treated kindly. Colorado's crime penalties are some of the harshest in the country.
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 inoperative 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 on 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.
Field Sobriety Test Information
Standard Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs, were developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to attempt to create standardized testing to determine a likelihood that an individual had a BAC of .10%.
After researching multiple tests, NHTSA determined that three tests were reliable enough to warrant further use. These three standardized tests used in Colorado are:
One leg stand
Walk and turn
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Any other tests used are not standardized and therefore should not carry weight in court. Contact a Denver criminal attorney at Hebets and McCallin for more information about these tests.
The three SFSTs used in Colorado, while having a good ability to predict a BAC of .10%, are not foolproof. Many factors affect an individual’s ability to adequately perform SFSTs including but not limited to road conditions, weather conditions, physical disabilities, proper administration of the tests and other drugs or medications.
SFSTs are researched for alcohol only and are not validated for other drugs. It is very important that you have an experienced DUI attorney like those at Hebets and McCallin in Denver who are well versed in these maneuvers and can identify any potential issues with these roadsides affecting your case. Contact us immediately if you are facing DUI charges.
Getting SR22 Insurance
SR22 is something you may have heard of but actually know little about. It could even be that you are in a situation where you may need this type of car insurance but still don’t know enough about it to be certain about what it means and what you need. There are some common misunderstandings about SR22 insurance, so use this as a basic information guide to get started.
Here are some general things you should know about SR22 car insurance in order to get a better understanding:
Contrary to popular belief, SR22 is not actually a type of insurance. It is a legal form that must be completed by an insurance agency in order to act as proof of financial responsibility. In other words, the form is used to guarantee that the driver has an auto insurance policy in place.
A person may need to prove this for many reasons, but it commonly relates to having your license suspended or revoked, especially as a result of a violation such as driving under the influence. The SR22 form is part of what a driver must have completed and filed in order to try to get the driver’s license reinstated.
On applying for insurance through the use of an SR22 form, a driver must still wait for approval from the DMV to get his or her driver’s license reinstated. Once this happens, a driver can drive legally but must keep the SR22 insurance policy current.
An SR22 car insurance policy cannot be canceled with a lapse in policies. In other words, if you decide to choose a different carrier for your auto insurance, you should plan to have it overlap by a few days instead of having any time between the policies.
SR22 car insurance policy providers are required to notify DMV officials if a driver allows his or her SR22 policy to end. If there is no proof of another policy in place, the driver can be in danger of losing his or her license again, as well as facing fines and other legal penalties.
Generally, although not always, a driver who is ordered to get SR22 auto insurance is required to keep this type of policy coverage for a three-year minimum.
There are different reasons a person may need to get an SR22 insurance policy. The bottom line is that the driver must do so to prove he or she has insurance coverage in place in order to get his or her driver’s license reinstated or to prove financial responsibility to drive.
Some of the offenses that could cause a person to need this kind of coverage include:
Probably the most common reason a person needs to get SR22 car insurance is as the result of a DUI or DWAI
If a driver has too many traffic violations in too short a period of time, he or she may need this kind of coverage
If a driver is caught driving without car insurance, especially in instances when the result is an at fault accident, SR22 insurance may be required.
If a driver's license is suspended or revoked for any other reason, the state may insist on an SR22 to prove that appropriate insurance is in place.
Keep in mind also that not all states require drivers to carry SR22 insurance. However, if you live in a state where you are required to get an SR22 policy and move to a state that doesn’t require it, this doesn’t let you off the hook. Generally, you must retain your SR22 policy for the state you moved from in addition to having basic car insurance for your new state.
So what can you expect if you are required to get an SR22 car insurance policy? The first thing is that the cost or amount of coverage you are required to have is often based on the severity of your offense. For example, if you have had multiple DUI offenses, the state may require you to have more coverage in order to get your license back and drive legally on the road. This is because you are considered a high-risk driver based on the type of offenses and the number of offenses you have had.
A few other things to keep in mind for SR22 auto insurance:
Although drivers generally only need an SR22 policy for three years, there are instances where you may need it longer. Again, this is often based on the severity of your offenses or the number of convictions on your record.
If you do not own a car, you may still be able to get non-owner SR22 car insurance so you can get back your driving privileges.
Do not allow gaps in your SR22 policy or you will have your license suspended or revoked again.
Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys in Denver
The criminal defense legal team at Hebets & McCallin in Denver understands that sometimes bad things happen to good people. A driving while ability impaired or DWAI arrest can be humiliating and the legal process can be overwhelming. At Hebets & McCallin, meeting our client’s needs and objectives is our number one priority. We have dedicated our DWAI practice to maintaining a small case-load so that each and every one of our clients gets the personalized attention that they deserve.