Denver DUI Attorney
Denver DUI Attorney
Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Colorado, and can happen to almost anybody. Sometimes these accidents result in the death of another person. Even if the death was the result of a mistake or accident, it is still possible to be charged with a criminal vehicular offense, including vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide. The penalties for a conviction for vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter can be severe and result in prison sentences and/or fines.
Colorado considers motor vehicles, cars, boats, vessels, public vessels, snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles to be vehicles for the purposes of charging vehicular manslaughter or homicide.
It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your best interests when charged with a driving offense, including vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide
Many states divide manslaughter into voluntary manslaughter, a killing during a hear of passion, and involuntary manslaughter , which are accidental killings. Unlike many states, Colorado does not do this. Instead, voluntary manslaughter is considered second degree murder with a reduced penalty.
A Denver DUI means that you were stopped by a police officer while operating a motor vehicle and your blood alcohol content (BAC) registered as 0.08% or higher. In Denver, a DUI is slightly different from a DWAI, distinguished only by the severity of the punishment.
A Denver DUI means you could be facing up to a year in prison, a $1000 fine, or a 9 month suspension – it’s important to note, however, that these penalties are only for first time offenders. Consecutive offenders face much harsher penalties including a license suspension for as much as two years and fines climbing up to $1500, but jail time is maximized at one year.
There is also a line drawn between permissible BAC for those over 21 and those under 21 when considering a DUI in Denver charge. Since 21 is the legal drinking age, anyone driving a vehicle under the age of 21 with a BAC greater than 0.02% can be arrested. If you refuse to participate in the Breathalyzer test at the time of arrest, you can automatically be subjected to a license suspension, the term of which is dependent upon whether you are a first time offender or not.
Colorado has altered its DUI laws in recent years in order to include minimum mandatory jail time for second and third time offenders. The stricter penalties are in an effort to crack down on impaired driving and deter those who might consider it. For a Denver DUI, a second time offender must serve at least 10 days in jail, while a third time offender (and consecutive offender) is required to serve a minimum of 60 days in jail.
If you avoid going to trial for your offense and are given the option of a plea bargain, there is a chance you can plead guilty to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving, but there is no provision requiring the judge to accept this plea and charge.
It is arguable that between DUI laws and DWAI laws, Colorado has pretty strict impaired driving laws when compared to other states. It is for this reason that getting a Denver DUI, or a DUI anywhere in Colorado, necessitates an experienced attorney. If there is a chance you can negotiate a plea bargain, you’ll certainly want that alternative over going to court. An experienced lawyer will be able to reasonably determine if a plea bargain has a good chance of passing a judge’s approval or not, and if not, will be well equipped to go to trial.
Getting a DUI in Denver can do lasting damage to your permanent record and affect your eligibility for employment in the future, as well as make vehicle insurance much more expensive or difficult to secure. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, do your research and contact the right lawyer – not just one you happen to know, but one who is experienced in DUI cases.
A Denver DWAI is not the same as a DUI in terms of punishment or requirement – although it is the same crime. The DWAI is what sets Colorado apart from many other states and lends to the state’s reputation for being hard on impaired drivers.
Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) targets those operating motor vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% but less than 0.08%. Typically, most states enforce laws against those with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, but Colorado has gone one step further by allowing the prosecution of those with a BAC below the average national legal limit.
A Denver DWAI charge can result in up to 180 days in jail and a $500 fine, without any risk of your license being lost or suspended. For consecutive offenders, jail time can spike up to as much as a year, fines can climb as high as $1500 and after the first offense, loss of license for up to two years is possible. For both DUI and DWAI multiple offenders, ignition interlock devices (IID) are required.
An IID makes the driver submit to a Breathalyzer test each time they get behind the wheel of their car, no matter what time of day. If your BAC is too high the IID will prevent you from operating your vehicle and even lock you out of operating your vehicle for a predetermined amount of time.
The Express Consent Law in Colorado means that as a person operating a motor vehicle in Colorado, you inherently provide your consent to submit to chemical testing to establish your fitness to operate a vehicle. Should you refuse these tests at the scene or after arrest, you will lose your license for up to a year.
Consecutive offenses featuring consecutive refusals of testing will result in prolonged loss of license for as much as three years, with an IID eligibility after a period of 1-2 years of suspension (depending on number of offenses). In short, it is much better for you to submit to testing in the event of a Denver DWAI, then it is to resist. Despite test results, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser charge.
Colorado is known for its strict point-of-view on impaired driving, which makes being arrested for a Denver DWAI or DUI, serious business. Your best course of action is always to hire an experienced and qualified attorney who is well-versed in Colorado DUI law.
Considering the potential punishments that come with a Denver DWAI charge, you’ll want to put yourself in capable hands. Although you won’t get off completely, there is a chance that you can get fines and jail time reduced to a minimum, which is in the best interest of first-time offenders and certainly repeat offenders.
Driving while impaired is illegal, we all know this, but did you know there are many definitions of what it means to be impaired? Many believe it is a direct reference to alcohol, but the truth is your driving can be impaired if you are tired or even if you are using legally prescribed medication that affects your ability to operate a vehicle effectively. A Denver DUID (Driving Under the influence of Drugs), means you were arrested because your driving ability was impaired by the use of drugs (legal or illicit).
It’s important to note that just because the drugs you were using were obtained legally (from medical marijuana to prescription pain killers) does not mean you can use that as an excuse or as a reasonable defense for your choices.
Many prescription drugs that impair your cognitive or physical abilities, as well as those that cause drowsiness (think of allergy medications and sleeping pills) clearly state on their labels that you are not to operate a motor vehicle while using the drug. If you choose to do so anyway, you cannot very well use the fact that the drug was obtained legally as a defense. For Denver DUID’s of this nature, you need an attorney with ample experience in DUI, DWAI and DUID defenses.
The state of Colorado permits sobriety check stops, which can be set-up in random locations at random times to screen drivers without notice. Check stops are an effective way of identifying impaired drivers and often lead to the issuing of many Denver DUID charges. Check stops may also result in fines or charges being laid for other driving offenses, including not using a seatbelt or operating an unsafe vehicle.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs cases will see a significant increase, post-2012, as the passage of new laws regarding possession and the use of smaller amount do marijuana in Colorado. This will also result in various changes to the investigation process of Denver DUID’s and their prosecution.
As the laws change, the protocols have to too, so we can expect to see an evolving process and system over the next few years. What works in favor of the accused, however, is the difficulty inherent in proving a DUID has occurred. Where a BAC test can be easily administered at the scene in just a few minutes, determining drug use often requires blood-testing, which is a much more lengthy and expensive process.
Depending on how the laws and methods evolve in the near future, a charge of a Denver DUID can prove a challenge for a District Attorney to prove. Does this mean DUID charges will be infrequent? Likely not. If a person is obviously impaired but not registering corresponding BAC levels at the scene, officers will have no choice but to assume drugs and issue a DUID charge/arrest, and investigate further with testing.
Although the Denver DUID laws are still in a fledgling stage, there are some well-equipped attorneys who can handle this sort of case, whether it goes to trial or a plea bargain.
Texting While Driving
Distracting driving laws are in vogue all across North America, but they are not a passing fad. As technology’s reach continues to increase, so will the laws governing it, particularly where driving is concerned.
While literally billions of text messages and phone calls are made each day in the United States, it’s no shock to learn that almost nine people die each day in accidents involving a distracted driver, and over 1000 injuries occur. Texting while driving is largely outlawed across the entire country.
Although distracted driving as an offense isn’t strictly contained to the use of cell phones, it can also involve any distraction that takes your hands off the wheel or focus off the road – eating is included in this.
Texting while driving typically interferes with a driver’s cognitive ability to focus on the road, as well as their physical ability to operate the vehicle. Hands-free cellular devices are permitted in many states, but not all. In Colorado, for instance, novice drivers are not permitted to use a phone in any capacity, regardless of whether it is hands-free or not.
Luckily, Colorado doesn’t make the list of ‘worst states for distracted drivers,” but that’s not to say it isn’t a problem here. Most states have enacted modest fines, ranging from $20 for a first-time offense in California to upwards for $150 in other areas. The good news is that the texting while driving numbers are largely down across the board, as well as cell phone use in general.
While you aren’t going to face a jury for texting while driving alone, if your distracted driving results in a car accident or a fatality of another driver or pedestrian, things could change in a heartbeat. A potentially simple distracted driving ticket could turn into a reckless driving or even manslaughter charge in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to believe that eating a burger behind the wheel or sending an email could result in you completing some serious jail time, but it happens. Of course the best way to handle this is to not drive with any distractions at all.
If your bad habits are habitually getting you in trouble with the police, and you have a stack of tickets piling up, it’s probably a good time to reconsider your driving methods – and your reliance on your cell phone. If you are in a much more serious situation, where your emailing or texting while driving has resulted in a car accident, call your lawyer immediately.
An accident of this nature can have some big implications for you and your future ability to drive. It will impact your insurability and likely land you with a criminal record. Given the frequency in which distracted driving has impacted national driving statistics and fatality reports, it’s clear that this is no laughing matter.
Reckless driving is the reason for many fatalities on the road each year – and not just of drivers, but of passengers and pedestrians as well. Driving a vehicle while impaired which results in the injury or death of another person is considered either vehicular assault or vehicular homicide (when a fatality occurs).
Essentially, any inappropriate use of a vehicle that results in injuries to others is vehicular assault. These charges can be laid if an injury is caused while you are eating behind the wheel, you fall asleep at the wheel, you’re intoxicated, have been using legal or illegal drugs, or disobey the rules of the road (run red lights, roll through stop signs or perform unsafe lane changes). There is also the obvious instance of intentionally injuring another with your vehicle.
As of 2014, some new changes in legal legislation have been proposed in the state of Colorado regarding vehicular assault.
“Under current law, a person can be convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide by proving either that the driver was engaged in reckless or negligent behavior, or that the driver was alcohol-impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the injury or death was caused. Vehicular assault is considered a class 5 felony.
This new proposed bill (House Bill 14-1158) would require the imposition of a mandatory prison term in any case where the driver was found guilty under the drug or alcohol provisions. If passed into law, the bill would mean that anyone convicted of a vehicular assault involving a DUI, DWAI or DUID would be sentenced to at least two years in prison.” ~ Colorado State Government
On top of this, the two year sentence for vehicular assault would be considered mandatory, regardless of what the District Attorney or Judge might otherwise desire. This article from the Denver Post explains some interesting inconsistencies in the Colorado Laws that are likely partially responsible for influencing the creation of this new Bill.
Vehicular assault is a serious offense and includes hit and runs. While it is morally unethical to flee the scene where a person has been injured due to a motor vehicle, it happens all the time. Fleeing the scene provides no guarantee that you will not be caught and it prevents you from discovering the severity of the victim’s injuries. If the victim succumbs to their injuries it is deemed a vehicular homicide – fleeing from the scene can only make your circumstance worse.
If you find yourself facing charges of vehicular assault, contact your lawyer as soon as possible. If the situation involves a DUI or DWAI as well, you’ll want your case managed by someone you can trust will do their best to protect your rights in court.