What Are My Rights When Charged With A DUI/DWAI In Colorado?

Colorado has strict laws and penalties for intoxicated driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) are misdemeanors punishable by license suspension, fines, jail time, and a criminal record. If you are facing a DUI charge in our state, you will certainly need to be aware of your rights so you don’t end up with unjust consequences.

These are some of the important rights that you need to remember when charged with DUI/DWAI in Colorado.

You CAN refuse a roadside test.

There are two types of tests that a police officer may administer after pulling you over. One type is the chemical test, using either a Breathalyzer or a blood sample. Unfortunately, Colorado has an “Express Consent Law” which says that you have already given consent to a chemical test the moment you started driving. When a police officer asks you to take a breath test or a blood test, your refusal may likely result in getting charged and getting your license suspended.

The other type of DUI/DWAI exam is commonly known as a roadside test. These are formally called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and are completely voluntary. Roadside tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (eye check), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. Remember, you do not have to do any of these even when you are threatened by a penalty for refusing. There is no punishment for refusing these voluntary tests.

You CAN get a blood re-test.

Going back to the chemical test, you have the option to choose between a Breathalyzer test and a blood sample examination. From a defense standpoint, it is wise to go with the blood test because the result can be challenged.

The blood test will normally require two blood samples – one for the state to test and an untested sample for you. Your attorney can then enlist an independent, certified laboratory to double-check the results of the state using the sample you have. Quite often, these two different assessments yield very different results.

You CAN get a hearing to avoid DMV license suspension.

There are two ways your license may be revoked following a drunk-driving charge. The court may include license suspension as part of your penalties if convicted, and the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may impose their own suspension as well. The DMV doesn’t wait until you get convicted – your license may be automatically suspended in as early as seven days after the arrest.

To fight the DMV suspension, you must request a hearing within seven days. You will keep your driving privileges if you prevail in this hearing, and you can help ensure your success by enlisting a lawyer. Note, however, that this hearing concerns only the DMV’s decision and not a decision by the court.

You CAN ask to get your license reinstated earlier.

In the event that the court revokes your license, it is possible to request an early reinstatement after only one or two months of being suspended (depending on the charges). Early reinstatement usually means you get your license back but you have to drive with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle for a certain period. You may also have to complete an alcohol education program.

For example, if this was your first offense, the typical length of license suspension would be nine months. But if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was less than 0.150 and you have no other license restrictions, you may ask the court for early reinstatement after only one month. Conditions for this include attending the Level II Alcohol Education and Therapy, and using an interlock for at least two years.

Your lawyer may be able to reduce your charges.

It is paramount that you get a defense attorney to protect you after you’ve been charged with intoxicated driving. Besides helping to avoid a DMV suspension and getting an independent blood test for you, your lawyer’s most crucial role may be to minimize your charges. In some cases, they may even reduce a DUI charge to a “wet reckless” driving charge, which involves no jail time and no DUI record.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Goldman Law if you are facing driving penalties. Our DUI defense lawyers are highly experienced and successful in cases like yours, and they are ready to help protect your rights.