Colorado DUI Lawyers
Defense for DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado
Being arrested and charged for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can threaten your freedom and future. After an arrest, it's important to remain calm and consider how to best defend yourself against the serious criminal charges and penalties you face.
At Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC, our experienced Denver area DUI attorneys fight aggressively on behalf of clients facing DUI allegations – and we fight to secure the best possible results.
Time is of the essence! Contact Our Colorado DUI Attorneys for a Consultation Today!
If you or someone you love has recently been arrested and charged for DUI, it is important to act fast and seek the help of experienced lawyers. During the initial stages of your case, a lawyer from our firm can help explain your rights, what to expect, and how we can guide you step by step through your legal journey. Because Colorado DUI cases involve two separate DUI proceedings – criminal cases and DMV hearings – our Colorado DUI attorneys are prepared to assist you during both:
- Criminal Cases – Criminal proceedings concern whether or not a motorist is guilty of a criminal offense for driving under the influence. Criminal cases are separate from DMV hearings and determine what penalties – if any – a defendant will face upon conviction, including fines, imprisonment, probation, and others.
- DMV Hearings – Administrative hearings with the DMV concern only a motorist's driving privileges. These hearings must be requested within 7 days after an arrest – the sooner the better – and are overseen by a DMV employee, who makes a final recommendation regarding license suspension or revocation.
Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC handles the full range of DUI cases and issues, including:
DWAI Vs. DUI Charges in Colorado
In Colorado, there are two different charges that a driver who has failed a field sobriety test can face: Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI). You may be charged with be DWAI if your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be 0.05 or higher. you may be charged with DUI if your BAC is 0.08 or higher.
Although the penalties for DUI are more severe, both have serious consequences, and it is vital that you make full use of your right to mount a defense.
- Driving While Ability-Impaired (DWAI): Colorado has a separate charge that can be filed against a person who tests with a blood alcohol content (BAC) in excess of 0.05%. Although the DWAI charge carries lighter penalties than a DUI charge, these are still criminal charges that should be taken seriously. A conviction for a DWAI, DUI, or DUI per se is a "major traffic violation" for purposes of being classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender by the DMV.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): This charge is brought when the driver of a motor vehicle (car, motorcycle, etc.) is significantly incapable of operating that motor vehicle safely, regardless of how low the driver's BAC is. Conviction of a DUI carries the likelihood of driver's license suspension, criminal fines, required driver-education courses, and even the possibility of jail time.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Early in 2009, Colorado enacted a new law that allows a driver convicted
of a first DUI or DWAI to end a driver's license suspension early by agreeing
to place an ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle
/s. An ignition interlock device is an alcohol-testing device that prevents
operation of the vehicle if the driver does not "blow sober."
Driver's License Suspension Hearings in Colorado
Your driver's license will be automatically suspended upon receiving a DUI citation. Drivers have seven days to request a hearing with the Colorado DMV to determine whether the license will be suspended for a longer period of time.
DUI Frequently Asked Questions
The police followed me for two miles before pulling me over. Isn’t that entrapment?
Like anyone on the road, the police are allowed to ride behind you, even for a couple of miles. Riding behind someone on a public road requires no special exercise of police power, and does not infringe on your rights. It is true that the police officer may be watching you to see if he or she can gather reasonable suspicion of a traffic offense, and thus have a lawful basis to initiate a traffic stop, but it is not entrapment. Entrapment is only a pertinent issue if the officer induces you to do something unlawful; it is not entrapment to watch and see if you do something unlawful.
I was only pulled over for speeding. Isn’t it illegal for the police to start investigating me for DUI?
As in so many things in the law, it depends. A police officer may not pull you over in your car, unless they have reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed. Reasonable suspicion means exactly what it says: the officer must be able to state specific reasons why he or she suspects you. So, let’s say the police officer pulled you over for the traffic offense of speeding. Her reason to suspect you of that offense is that she clocked you on her correctly calibrated radar gun traveling 40 MPH on a stretch of road she knows has a speed limit of 30 MPH. She initiates the stop, and you pull over. At that moment, she could no more start investigating you for DUI than she could start investigating you for the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. She has no reason to suspect you of either.
But, let’s say she walks up to your driver’s side window, and sees an open can of beer in your cup holder when she leans in to ask for your license and registration for the speeding offense. If the traffic stop for the speeding offense was legitimate, and she legally pulled you over, she is also allowed to investigate any other offense she may gain reasons to suspect you of while she is conducting that legitimate stop.
The officer started questioning me about whether I had been drinking, but he didn’t read me my rights. My statements have to be thrown out of court, right?
Probably not. When people talk about police “reading their rights,” they are talking about the constitutional rights that were addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona. Before the Miranda decision, there was a problem in our society where the police would take people into custody and subject them to extremely aggressive interrogation that bordered on, or even crossed over to, abuse. They even had a name for it: giving someone the third degree. The third degree resulted in a lot of coerced confessions. What people who were getting the third degree didn’t know is that all they had to do to stop the interrogation was to invoke their fifth amendment right to remain silent, and their sixth amendment right to a an attorney.
Everyone who interacts with the police can exercise those rights at any time, but people often didn’t understand that they had that option, so abuse was widespread. In Miranda, the Court said that if the police had someone in custody and wanted to question them, they had to first tell that person about their rights to remain silent and to an attorney, and get a knowing waiver of those rights before the interrogation could proceed. Any statements made during an in-custody interrogation absent that advisement and waiver of rights is inadmissible in court.
However, during a traffic stop, the law says that you are not “in custody.” That means that an officer can question you without telling you about your rights or getting a waiver without violating the Miranda rule. But remember: everyone who interacts with the police can exercise their rights at any time. Even if the officer doesn’t explain that it is an option, you can always tell them, “I’m sorry officer, I never make statements to police without an attorney present.”
Moreover, you are also free to decline taking a “Presumptive Breath Test” or performing “Roadside Maneuvers.”
So I am free to simply ignore the police?
You have the right to remain silent and to a Colorado DUI attorney during police questioning. That doesn’t mean you can necessarily ignore the police. As a person driving in the state of Colorado, the police are authorized to make certain demands of you in certain circumstances.
- First, the law states that a “peace officer may stop any person who he reasonably suspects is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime and may require him to give his name and address, identification if available, and an explanation of his actions.” There are good arguments that that last provision may conflict with citizen’s rights against self-incrimination, but there is little doubt that a police officer conducting a lawful traffic stop may require a person to identify themselves.
Second, by driving in Colorado, you are deemed to have “expressed
consent” to the taking of a breath or blood sample if the officer
has probable cause to suspect an alcohol related driving offense:
- “A person who drives a motor vehicle upon the streets and highways and elsewhere throughout this state shall be required to take and complete, and to cooperate in the taking and completing of, any test or tests of the person's breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of the person's blood or breath when so requested and directed by a law enforcement officer having probable cause to believe that the person was driving a motor vehicle in violation of the prohibitions against DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, or UDD.”
If the officer has probable cause to suspect you and invokes this rule, the law requires you to comply. However, people can and do refuse to comply. Law enforcement does not and cannot take such samples by force. If a person refuses the “expressed consent” law, then the authorities will not have a scientific breath or blood analysis to use against the person at any subsequent trial. What they can often do, however, is use the fact of your refusal itself as evidence against you.
Additionally, there is an automatic revocation of your driver’s license based on a person’s refusal, whether or not the person is convicted or even charged with DUI.
So what do I do when an officer pulls me over for DUI?
It is impossible to give generic advice that would be correct in all possible scenarios, so I can’t give such advice.
Will I get jail time for a first DUI?
In Colorado, for a first DUI conviction you can still face serious penalties such as fines and jail time. The possible penalties you could face for a first time DUI include:
- 5 days to 1 year in jail
- $600 to $1,000 in fines
- 9-month license revocation
What I can say is that rights are valuable things and we don’t give away valuable things for nothing. I believe it is important that citizens know their rights so they can decide how to exercise them. A Colorado DUI lawyer, well versed in the criminal law, can be extremely helpful in making the right decisions. If you are facing a DUI charge, call Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC. We can help you understand your options and help you get through this difficult situation.
Contact A Colorado DUI Lawyer Today
Our experienced DUI defense attorneys in Denver believe that every person
accused of a crime deserves a strong defense and a second chance. Our
firm has long-term experience working as
a criminal prosecutors for the state or for the military. Experience on
both sides of the courtroom aisle helps us better protect our clients.
Arrested for DUI? Contact us today to make a confidential appointment.