Best Colorado Springs 1st Time DUI Attorneys
Skillful Representation for Drivers Facing DUI Charges
Colorado Springs Driving Under the Influence (DUI) lawyer Patterson Weaver provides knowledgeable and experienced legal representation to people charged with DUI in El Paso County. If you are charged with a DUI, whether as first-time DUI or a subsequent offense, Colorado Springs first time DUI lawyer Patterson Weaver works hard to obtain the most favorable outcome possible in every case. Although penalties are stiffer for subsequent charges, it is extremely important to fight DUI charges on even first offenses.
Facing charges for your first DUI? Contact Patterson Weaver Law, LLC to start discussing your defense.
You have been charged with your first DUI. What happens now?
For many people, their first (and hopefully only) interaction with the criminal justice system comes as a result of a DUI, and the process can be overwhelming. Chances are that you have never spoken with a bail bondsman before; that you have never been to criminal court before; and that the police reports and other documents you receive from the court seem to be written in a different language. You are not alone in feeling this way; there are literally thousands of people in courtrooms across America going through this process RIGHT NOW and trying to figure out what to do.
If this is my first DUI offense, do I really need an attorney?
Absolutely. Do not make the mistake of listening to a friend or family member who tells you that all first-time DUIs are handled in the same way, because they are not. No two DUI cases are identical when you factor in different drivers (of various ages and body types), different patrol officers (some inexperienced, some seasoned DUI specialists), different circumstances which led to the arrest (pulled over while driving vs. found sleeping in a parking lot), and different levels of blood alcohol content (often abbreviated as "BAC"). All of these individual factors will lead to a unique offer from the DA, and not all offers are created equal.
Having an attorney is especially important if your case involved an accident involving property damage, injury or death; if there was a child in the car at the time of your arrest; or if your BAC was exceedingly high (in Colorado, an individual with a BAC of 0.15% or above will be classified as a "persistent drunk driver," even for a first time offender). There are enhanced penalties built into the Colorado criminal code for these aggravating circumstances, including a mandatory minimum jail sentence.
What can a DUI Attorney do for me?
An experienced DUI attorney, like the ones at Patterson Weaver Law, can identify relevant issues that can be used to defend your case, negotiate with the DA, and possibly get the charges dismissed. For example:
- the arresting officer did not have a valid reason for pulling you over in the first place
- the police officer did not have probable cause to charge you with DUI as a result of the traffic stop
- you were coerced into making incriminating statements to the officer without being advised of your Miranda rights
- the roadside sobriety tests were administered incorrectly
- the blood or breath test was administered incorrectly
- there was an issue with the state laboratory that calls the test results into question
- the blood or breath test was obtained outside of the prescribed time limit (2 hours)
- you were taking medication that caused an adverse reaction
- you were drugged without your knowledge before getting behind the wheel
Do not take a chance that you could enter a guilty plea for DUI when there are any number of defenses available to you that could either minimize the charges you are facing, or get them dismissed outright. There is too much at stake to take that kind of risk.
What does the law say about DUI in Colorado?
You can be charged with DUI under C.R.S. 42-4-1301(1)(f) if you are caught driving a car or other vehicle when you have consumed alcohol or one or more drugs (or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs), and it affects you to a degree that you are substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. One is substantially incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle when they are unable, either physically or mentally, of using clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of the vehicle.
Alternatively, you can be charged with DUI per se. This means that if you have a blood alcohol content that is over .08 within two hours of driving, you can be found guilty of DUI per se. You will be asked to take a breath or blood test if you are suspected of drunk driving. Some people assume that a conviction is assured if they were tested and the test came back with a .08 reading or higher. However, there are ways an experienced first time DUI Attorney can sometimes challenge chemical tests. Sometimes appropriate procedures were not followed. In other cases, there may have been mechanical issues. In still other cases, an attorney can challenge the entire stop as a violation of the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights and try to get evidence obtained in the stop suppressed.
A lesser included charge of DUI is a charge for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). Even if your impairment did not get to the point of DUI, you can still be guilty of DWAI. This means that you were driving a car when you had consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of these, and it affected you even to the slightest degree so that you were less able than you ordinarily would have been, physically or mentally, to use good judgment and exert appropriate care to safely drive.
Simply put, you can be convicted of DWAI if you consumed alcohol or drugs that made you less capable than you would otherwise have been without the use of drugs or alcohol. If your ability to operate a car is normally 100, and you have a drink and your ability can now be rated at 99, you could be convicted of DWAI in Colorado. While there is no per se limit for DWAI over which you would be immediately considered drunk, generally the presumption is that if your blood alcohol content was 0.05-0.08, you were driving while your ability was impaired.
What are the penalties for 1st offense DUI in Colorado?
Generally speaking, assuming that there are no aggravating factors (such as high BAC or an accident involving injury or death), your DUI will likely be charged as a misdemeanor. As such, you may be required to spend between 5 days to 1 year in jail, pay a fine up to $1,000 (not including court costs and fees), have 12 points against your license, have your driver's license revoked for up to nine months, perform community service of up to 96 hours, and be required to complete alcohol education classes and therapy.
The penalties for a first-time DWAI are slightly less than those for DUI, including from 2 to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $500, 8 points against your driver's license, up to 48 hours of useful public service, and complete alcohol education and therapy.
As noted above, if your blood alcohol content was 0.15% or above, you will be classified as a "persistent drunk driver," even if this is your first offense. Higher BAC levels may require you to install an ignition interlock device ("IID") for at least two years before your full driving privileges will be reinstated. An IID functions like a breathalyzer test for your car; you must provide a breath sample free of alcohol in order to start your vehicle, in addition to breath samples while the car is operating.
If you are put on probation for a first-time DUI conviction, certain conditions may be imposed. A judge can require you to abstain from consuming alcohol or drugs and to maintain sobriety, in addition to other standard probation terms. Your abstinence may be monitored.
Many people are not aware of the fact that while the criminal case is pending, you may also face consequences from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When the Colorado DMV receives notice that you have been charged with a DUI, they will suspend your driver's license. Typically, the arresting officer will take your driver's license and issue you a temporary permit which will allow you to drive your vehicle for 7 days, during which time you must request a hearing to contest the suspension of your driving privileges.
The above penalties do not include other side-effects of a DUI, including increased insurance rates, potential job loss, and damage to personal relationships. Given the many dangers associated with a DUI arrest, you owe it to yourself to at least schedule a free consultation with a lawyer who understands the law and can assist in your DUI defense.
First time DUI offenders should also be aware that, even though a good attorney can often help you avoid jail on a first DUI, a second offense DUI typically carries heavier penalties, including a mandatory minimum 10 days of jail time.
What if I refused to take a blood or breath test?
Under what is known as Colorado's Express Consent law, every driver is required to submit to a blood or breath test if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you have operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse to take a blood or breath test, not only can that refusal be used as evidence against you in your DUI trial, but it can also result in a mandatory one-year license suspension, designation as a "persistent drunk driver," alcohol education and therapy, installation of an ignition interlock device for at least one year after your license is reinstated, and the requirement that you obtain what is known as "SR-22" policy from your insurance company.
When can I get my driver's license back?
At minimum, your license will be suspended for one month for a first offense DUI (or three months for a refusal), after which you can request a restricted driver's license (sometimes referred to as a "hardship license"). After the minimum suspension period, if you have completed the alcohol education course and installed an ignition interlock system on your vehicle, you can drive legally again. Beware that if you are caught driving during that mandatory suspension period, you could be charged with driving under suspension/revocation, which could result in mandatory jail time.
Consult an Experienced Colorado Springs First Time DUI Lawyer
Whether you are charged with a first-time DUI or DWAI in Colorado Springs, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review the facts of your case. The consequences can seriously affect your future.
Call the Colorado Springs DUI attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law at (719) 264-9858 or use our online form to set up an appointment. Patterson Weaver Law regularly represents DUI offenders in Pueblo, Monument, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Security-Widefield, Palmer Lake, Old Colorado City, Woodland Park, Divide, Cripple Creek, Fairplay, Salida, Buena Vista, Westcliffe, Silver Cliff, Canon City, and Castle Rock, as well as other areas of El Paso, Chaffee, Pueblo, Teller, Lincoln, and Park Counties.
Arrested for your first DUI? Get skillful defense from Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today.