DUI/DWAI Lawyer in Colorado Springs
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a DUI?
While it is true that you have the right to defend yourself in criminal court, there is also some truth to the old adage that "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client."
The reason people hire DUI attorneys to defend them from a drunk driving charge is the same reason they see a doctor when they are sick, hire an architect to design their house, or speak with an accountant about their taxes: professionals have specialized training and experience that the average person simply does not possess.
Neither the police officer that arrested you, nor the prosecutor with the District Attorney's office in charge of your case, are there to help you. They are not your friends, they are not looking to cut you the best plea deal possible; they just want you to plead guilty.
Drunk driving (or "drugged driving") is a serious charge, and a conviction can have life-altering consequences. For this reason alone, you should at least speak with a DUI attorney to go over the facts of your case. Many law firms offer free consultations to potential clients, and you should take advantage of that opportunity. Bring the police report and any other documentation relating to your arrest with you to the consultation, and write down a list of questions you would like to ask; that will help you make the most of your time. A face-to-face meeting is also a good way for you gauge whether the lawyer or law firm would be a good fit for you if you are thinking of hiring them.
To schedule your free initial consultation, contact our firm today. We have everything you need to help you get through!
What does a DUI attorney do?
Your attorney is your professional representative that assists you in all phases of your case: at the DMV hearing, to question witnesses and make arguments to the hearing officer; at the discovery stage ("discovery" is all of the evidence the state has against you, consisting of police reports, witness statements, dash cam or body cam footage, etc.), your attorney will review the materials to identify possible defenses and evaluate the strength of the case against you; at each court appearance, to negotiate with the prosecutor and communicate with the judge on your behalf; at trial (if necessary), to cross-examine witnesses and present your defense; and everything in-between.
Any criminal defense attorney, especially one that focuses on DUI charges, should be able to look at the circumstances of your case and identify potential defenses or weaknesses in the case against you. Perhaps the police administered a field sobriety test incorrectly or misread the signs of intoxication; perhaps a blood test or breath test was taken over two hours after your arrest; perhaps the arresting officer failed to explain the consequences of a refusal; perhaps the sheriff's deputy did not have sufficient probable cause to pull you over in the first place. All of these issues are relevant your defense and can be used in negotiations with the prosecutor to get a more favorable plea offer.
How much does it cost to hire a DUI attorney?
For a lot of people, the cost to hire an attorney is their primary concern. The cost will vary based upon your location, the number of attorneys practicing in that area of law, and the charges that you are facing. You can expect to pay several thousands of dollars for a first offense, and more for a felony DUI; there may well be an additional cost if your case goes to trial.
Is a DUI a Felony in Colorado?
In Colorado, a DUI is usually a misdemeanor but can be a felony under certain circumstances. A DUI can be a felony when the violation occurred after three or more prior convictions, arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI; vehicular homicide; vehicular assault; or any combination thereof. So if the DUI lead to someone getting injured, death or anything serious it will become a Class IV felony.
Can I beat a DUI without a lawyer?
It is possible, but not likely. The question is akin to "can I perform surgery without being a doctor?" Again, the answer may well be yes, but do you think that would be a good idea? The courtroom is an unforgiving place for those that do not know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. Evidence needs to be presented in certain way, questions need to be asked a certain way, and a criminal defense lawyer knows how to do those things; you may not.
Oftentimes, people think that (especially with a first DUI charge) the plea offer they receive from the prosecutor will be the same whether they are represented by a lawyer or not. In some jurisdictions, this may very well be the case, but the plea offer is only the start of the negotiating process. Having an attorney on the case increases the chances that you will identify potential defenses or problems with the prosecutor's case, as use those circumstances to improve the offer, which could potentially lessen jail time, the amount of alcohol education and therapy you need to complete, or any other aspect of the plea offer that could be improved.
Do not make the mistake of taking legal advice from a friend or family member with a prior DUI: no two cases are the same, no two district attorneys are the same, no two judges are the same, and as such, you cannot expect that your case will turn out the way theirs did. You owe it to yourself, and your future, to do everything you can to get out of this case with the best possible result.
What Are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction?
DUI and DWAI convictions often carry serious consequences, including stiff fines, loss of a license, and even jail time.
Hiring an experienced criminal and DUI-defense attorney can help you:
- Reduce or eliminate potential jail time
- Reduce required hours of public service
- Reduce fines
- Obtain a deferred sentence (or even sometimes plea to a non-alcohol related charge)
- Keep your driver’s license
Additionally, in some cases, DUIs and DWAIs can be beaten altogether. Our team can help you better understand your unique situation and determine what your options are.
What Is a DUI, Exactly?
The charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) means:
". . . driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” C.R.S. 42-4-1301(1)(f) (2013)."
In layman’s English, DUI means that someone is operating a vehicle when the consumption of some substance or substances has made him or her substantially incapable of safely operating that vehicle. While this substance is most often alcohol, any kind of impairing drugs (like marijuana), or even prescription medications, can make someone intoxicated and lead to a DUI charge.
Additionally, Colorado has a per se limit on the amount of alcohol that can be in one’s system of .08. If you have a “blood alcohol content” above .08 within 2 hours of driving, you are guilty of Driving Under the Influence per se. See C.R.S. 42-4-1301(2)(a). Basically, above that limit, the State of Colorado assumes you are substantially impaired, and therefore deems you automatically guilty.
However, just because the police say your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above .08 doesn’t mean your case can’t be defended. Like all scientific tests, Blood Alcohol tests and Breathalyzer tests have a margin of error that can be used to negotiate with the DA or even to win at trial. Additionally, human error in testing blood and mechanical error in breath tests can sometimes cause results to be thrown out. Contact a DUI attorney in Colorado Springs today for a free case evaluation to see what issues may be present in your case and how you should best proceed.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Colorado?
A DUI will stay on your driving record for 10 years and you will also have 12 points assessed against you. The DUI will increase your insurance premiums during the period that the points are being assessed.
What Is the Difference Between a DUI & a DWAI?
A “Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol” (DWAI) charge is what is called a “lesser included” charge of DUI. That means that, while someone’s level of impairment may not reach the level of DUI, they may still be guilty of DWAI.
Specifically, DWAI means:
". . . driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
Very simply, someone is guilty of DWAI when some substance (or substances) makes them less able than normal to safely operate a motor vehicle. For example, if your normal ability to operate a motor vehicle can be scored as a 10, and after a drink, you are now able to operate a motor vehicle at only a 9.9, technically you are guilty of DWAI.
However, unlike DUI, there is no per se limit for blood alcohol content over which you are automatically guilty. But there is a presumption in Colorado that you are impaired if your blood alcohol content is over .05 but less than 08. See C.R.S. 42-4-1301(6)(a)(II). Regardless, however, a BAC anywhere below .08 can be a helpful fact for negotiation, and in some instances may be possible to plead your case to a non-alcohol charge.
DUI & DWAI Consequences in Colorado
A DUI is an unclassified misdemeanor and can carry a penalty of up to a year in jail and another year of jail suspended, in addition to an additional year on probation, and/or up to $1,500 in fines, between 24 and 120 hours of community service, and required alcohol classes and therapy. In fact, even someone with a first DUI must do a minimum of 10 days in jail if their BAC was above a .20. In addition, a DUI conviction results in 12 points against your driver’s license, resulting in a suspension of your driving privileges.
DWAI potential penalties are largely similar but can carry only up to 180 days in jail and 8 points against your license.
Can a DUI/DWAI be Expunged in Colorado?
A DUI or DWAI cannot be removed from your criminal record and will remain there forever. The only exceptions to this rule are juvenile court cases and underage drinking and driving cases.
Contact a Colorado Springs DUI Lawyer Today
Regardless of whether you are charged with a DUI or DWAI, an alcohol-related driving charge can have serious consequences. You should consult with an attorney experienced in defending DUI and DWAI charges immediately in order to help reduce the impact on your life, your finances, and your future.
Don’t leave your future to chance. Call Patterson Weaver Law, LLC at (719) 215-8049 today to get started.