After being arrested for a DUI, you most likely want the whole experience to be over as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a DUI charge isn’t something that gets resolved overnight. Depending on the specifics of your case, you’ll likely face several hearings, an arraignment, and—if your case cannot be settled out of court—a trial. You’ll need to make sure you understand each of these steps in order to give your case the best chance of having a favorable outcome. Learn the basics about each of the steps below, and contact a DUI defense attorney to start preparing your case.
The DUI Process in Colorado
Opportunity to seek legal counsel. You should talk to a qualified DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after you are charged with a DUI. The legal process can be complex, so you’ll want to work with someone who thoroughly understands the state laws in Colorado and knows how to build a strong defense for your case.
Scheduling a DMV hearing. You will have seven days after the date of your arrest to go to a Colorado DMV office and request a hearing. The hearing itself does not have to be held within those first seven days; however, you’ll want to be sure you go to the DMV within this time frame, as failing to do so may result in further penalties. If you did not already surrender your license when you were arrested, you will have to surrender it at the DMV.
DMV hearing. It’s important to note that this hearing is separate from the criminal court process.At this hearing, you will be able to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. If you’re successful, you will get your license back, but if you’re not, your license will be suspended for 9 months (provided this is your first offense).
Arraignment. This is the first part of the criminal defense process. You will be given a court date and must appear in court at that time to be read your rights and to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. You will want to have your attorney with you at this time.
Pre-trial hearing. After the arraignment, your defense attorney will meet with the prosecution to discuss a potential plea bargain and to negotiate reducing or even dropping the charges against you.
Suppression hearing. At this stage, your attorney will work to have evidence against you suppressed. Evidence in a DUI case may be suppressed for several reasons, such as a police officer making an unlawful traffic stop or failing to read you your rights before questioning you. If your attorney is successful in suppressing evidence in your case, that evidence cannot be used against you in trial, and the charges may be reduced or dropped as a result.
Trial. It’s possible that your case may be settled out of court, but if it is not, you will go to trial. Your attorney and the prosecution will both present their arguments and evidence, and then the jury will conclude that you are either guilty or not guilty. If you’re found guilty and this is your first DUI, you will face a 9-month license suspension, a fine between $600 and $1,000, a potential jail sentence of up to one year, up to 96 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol education. If, however, you are acquitted, the charges against you will be dropped, and your case will be dismissed.
Preparing for each step of the DUI process with the help of a defense attorney will give you the best chance of having the charges dropped, so call a DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.