Laws against driving under the influence (DUI) have been in place for the last century. However, these cases can be challenging and require an in-depth understanding of complex evidentiary, procedural, and substantive law. DUI charges and convictions can result in fines, jail time, and many collateral consequences.
If you have been accused of drunk driving, it is important to understand the ways to get out of a DUI in court. Contact The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, at 720-687-2795 to learn about how to get out of a DUI in Colorado.
Colorado DUI Laws
Under Colorado law, it is a criminal offense to operate a vehicle or non-motorized vehicle either:
- While under the influence of alcohol and or drugs, or
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater.
Penalties for DUI in Colorado
The penalties for a Colorado DUI depend on how many impaired or drunk driving convictions you have and your BAC. However, drivers can face driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charges even if they have a lower BAC or no chemical results. These charges are based on police observations of impairment.
Can You Get Out of a DUI?
If a Colorado officer stops you for suspicion of DUI, there are certain things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of your arrest. Some things you should consider after being stopped for a DUI include the following:
- Assert your constitutional right to remain silent; and
- Avoid taking a roadside test.
Why should you avoid roadside sobriety tests? Because they are voluntary and they are designed for failure. The movements the officer asks you to do are not normal human movements, and people can have a hard time performing these tests, even if they are completely sober.
And some officers will assume you are impaired if you make just one or two even minor missteps. So there really is no upside to taking these tests, as the officer will interpret them against you more often than not.
Instead, it is best to take a breath test at a police station or hospital. It is also best to be polite but refrain from speaking to officers until you get the results of the formal breath test at the police station.
Can a Lawyer Get You Out of a DUI?
While DUI cases may seem clear-cut, there are many ways to get out of a DUI. First, you should know that prosecutors have the burden to prove that you are guilty of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden of proof in the legal system. Why? Because the government has a high bar to meet when they charge you with a crime that threatens to take away your liberty.
This high burden of proof means that your defense attorney has the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented. Your attorney’s job is to cast enough doubt on the evidence to get a not-guilty verdict at trial.
How to Get Out of a DUI First Offense in Colorado
Colorado DUI penalties are serious, even for first-time offenders. In some cases, an attorney can have the charge reduced to a “wet reckless.” A wet reckless means a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol.
However, this option is only available if the prosecutor offers it in a plea bargain, and that is up to their discretion.
There is no catchall defense to Colorado DUI charges. Instead, DUI defense strategies depend on the unique facts and circumstances of the case.
Some of the most effective DUI defense strategies that may apply to your case include the following:
- Law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you;
- Law enforcement lacked probable cause to arrest you;
- Law enforcement gave inaccurate field sobriety instructions;
- The blood or breath tests were improperly administered or otherwise incorrect;
- There are no witnesses; or
- If there are witnesses, they are not credible.
An attorney can help strategize a defense that applies to your specific situation.
Constitutional Violation Defense
Under the constitution, law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before pulling someone over for a traffic violation or detaining someone for a DUI.
Additionally, they must have probable cause before arresting someone for DUI or requiring them to take a chemical test. An attorney can argue that the officer lacked the requisite reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop or arrest you.
Moreover, police must read you your Miranda rights if you have been arrested and the officer is conducting a custodial interrogation. If the police did not read you your Miranda rights, the statements you made after your arrest must be excluded from the evidence.
Improper or Inaccurate DUI Testing Defense
Colorado maintains laws to ensure the accuracy of DUI chemical tests. However, these tests are not foolproof, and mistakes can happen at any stage, from administration to result analysis. A seemingly minor error can lead to inaccurate results.
Additionally, in some instances, residual mouth alcohol can create glitches in an evidentiary breath alcohol testing machine. Further, certain medical conditions can contaminate a person’s breath test results.
No Driving Defense
Unlike some states, Colorado allows individuals to assert the “no driving defense” if they were not driving at the time of the stop. The no-driving defense might be available in the following situations:
- Law enforcement approaches someone standing or sitting outside a car at an accident scene;
- Police find an individual sitting in their parked car with the motor running; or
- Police found several people in a parked car, and it is unclear who the driver was.
In these cases, a defense attorney can argue that no credible witness can establish that the accused was driving while impaired. However, this defense is only applicable if law enforcement did not see the person driving before stopping them.
Other Explanations for Physical Symptoms or Poor Driving
Officers sometimes cite indirect physical evidence of intoxication to arrest a suspected drunk driver. However, many of the symptoms of drunk driving can also be caused by the following:
- Allergies or allergy medications,
- Injury, or
- Speech Impediment.
Further, while not always the best defense, some explanations for poor driving can include the following:
- You were in a hurry,
- You were arguing with a passenger, or
- You were emotional after an argument.
While these actions are unsafe and might result in a ticket, getting cited for one of the above bad driving behaviors is usually preferable to the prosecutor charging you with a DUI.
Learn More About How to Get Out of a DUI Charge
If you were recently arrested and are wondering how to get out of a DUI in Colorado, Attorney Michael R. Ferrell can help. At The Ferrell Law Firm, PLLC, we have extensive experience handling all types of Colorado DUI cases and are familiar with the best DUI defenses, when they apply, and how to use them to effectively resolve your case with as little impact on your future as possible.