If you have been charged with a DUI in Colorado, it’s helpful to understand the legal process and how a knowledgeable defense attorney can lead you through it.
There are seven steps involved in the DUI process. Your case may or may not involve all seven steps as described below.
When you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you may simply receive a citation for DUI and not necessarily be jailed or kept overnight. If you are polite and cooperative during your arrest or citation, your chances of receiving lighter treatment are improved.
How does this work? The arresting officer can allow someone else to take you home or may send you to a detoxification facility.
If you are required to spend a few hours in detox and then retrieve your vehicle from impound, it will already cost you several hundred dollars in fines.
Express Consent Hearing
If you refused to submit to a breath test during your arrest, you must request an Express Consent hearing from the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within seven days from the original arrest date. It’s best to make your request as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last day of eligibility.
After processing your request, the DMV will then send you a Notice of Hearing in addition to an Express Consent packet, which will contain a copy of the police report. The next hearing will be set within 60 days of your request.
At your arrest, the officer should give you a ticket that states the location, time, and date for a mandatory court appearance, known as the arraignment.
The arraignment involves a magistrate or judge who advises you of your charges and possible penalties. The DMV will receive an order to suspend your driver’s license until or unless your warrant has been cleared and your court fees have been paid.
You are required by law to attend the arraignment and any future court appearances related to the charges. If you fail to do so, the judge will issue a Failure to Appear Warrant, which could lead to further charges and fines.
Working with a skilled Colorado DUI attorney can help you avoid needing to appear at each court date, as the lawyer will appear on your behalf.
If you needed to post bond or bail after your arrest, your arraignment will be called a Bond Appearance. You may receive additional terms related to the bond, including the following:
- Abstaining from alcohol and drugs
- Use of monitoring device to enforce abstinence
- Driving only with valid license
- Staying within state borders unless court permission is granted
- Committing no new legal offenses
You will also be required to comply with pre-trial services, as described below.
These conferences are scheduled as court appearances where you will meet with the district attorney to discuss your case details. Your attorney can make discovery requests for evidence and negotiate plea bargains at these conferences.
Most cases involve between two and four conferences. It’s important to communicate with your lawyer and attend each one to receive the best possible outcome in your case.
Your attorney will make motions, or legal arguments, on your behalf to the judge, for things such as suppression of evidence or dismissal. These motions are argued before the judge, who will decide whether any evidence can be suppressed. Know that the judge almost always rules in favor of the prosecution.
If your case reaches this point, it will be presented to a jury, which will hear the testimony and evidence, then decide whether you are innocent or guilty of the charges. A jury for a misdemeanor DUI charge is six people, while a felony DUI trial will have a jury of 12 people.
The jury selection process can take a few days, and the trial itself can take two or more days to complete.
If you are convicted of the charges, you will face sentencing. Penalties will be assessed according to the Colorado statues.
Before sentencing, the judge will consider all the factors presented by your attorney and by the prosecutor. Understand that by contacting and hiring an experienced Colorado criminal lawyer at the beginning of this process, your chances at obtaining a positive outcome will be greatly improved.
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.