Because drunk driving is such a common charge in Colorado – More than 20,000 motorists are charged each year, or more than 50 a day – defendants face a higher risk of being unlawfully charged than is the case with many other types of serious criminal charges.
In fact, law enforcement in many cases is counting on motorists who simply pay the penalties and go away quietly. There are many reasons veteran Denver drunk driving defense lawyers urge you to fight the charges, including costs of conviction (more than $10,000), impact on current or future job prospects, and increased penalties for a subsequent offense, which having a drunk-driving conviction on your record makes much more likely.
These cases are often very winnable. And even if your DUI defense attorney determines a plea is in your best interest, a first-offense charge is typically the easiest to get reduced to a lesser offense.
Among the most common violations committed by law enforcement:
Reason for stop: In many cases, the reason for stopping you is simply invented. You drifted out of your lane, you were swerving within your lane, you failed to use a turn signal, you were driving too slowly; you failed to dim your bright lights; your muffler was hanging too low. In some cases, the reason you were stopped may not even be a violation. If you are sober, the officer may or may not write a warning that floats around in your car until the next time you empty the trash. When the probable cause for your stop is successfully challenged, the charges against you will likely be dismissed.
Sobriety tests: Police are notorious for inventing all types of field sobriety tests. Many of these you would probably fail sober, particularly if you have poor balance or mobility issues. There are a very narrow set of tests admissible in court, and then only if they are properly administered. More than anything, sobriety tests are meant to embarrass you and get you to admit guilt. You are not required, and should not, submit to field sobriety testing.
Portable breath tests: You are not required to submit to a portable breath test at the scene.
Miranda rights: You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it. DUI is such a common charge that an officer may fail to advise you of your rights, or fail to read you your rights in a timely manner. They may also continue to question you after you have invoked your rights.
Breath/Urine/Blood tests: In most cases, you have the right to refuse these tests. Yes, that will be used against you in court, but so will a failed test. In some cases, particularly if an accident is involved, you may be compelled or forced to take a test. But in such cases, law enforcement must follow very strict rules and procedures. When they don’t, your DUI defense lawyer can have such evidence excluded from trial.
Delay in testing: The law requires your test be given in a timely manner. In many cases, that does not happen for a variety of reasons. In some situations, that delay can be used to your advantage.
Contesting the charges: You have the right to contest both the administrative license suspension and the criminal charges. However, you have as few as 7 days from the date of arrest to request an administrative hearing to contest suspension of your driver’s license, which you should do after consultation with an experienced Denver drunk driving defense attorney.
James Colgan is a veteran drunk driving defense attorney who represents clients throughout the Denver metro area, including Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Thornton, Westminster, Berkley, Brighton, Broomfield, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Columbine, Commerce City, Englewood, Federal Heights, Golden, Greenwood Village, Ken Caryl, Littleton, Lone Tree, Northglenn, Parker, Sherrelwood, The Pinery, Welby and Wheat Ridge.
Call the Law Office of James Colgan at 720-909-6425 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.