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Building a defense against DUI charges

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | Drunk Driving

Going out to have a few drinks with friends or family shouldn’t be a crime, but it can certainly feel like it when you get pulled over for a DUI. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it should not have to ruin your life. Unfortunately, overly aggressive law enforcement in Colorado can place people in just that predicament if they are there at the wrong moment.

If the driver is driving a little erratically and the officer can prove they were tipsy, it can be enough to land them in jail on a first offense. For Denver metro and Breckenridge communities, having a strong defense against charges is critical to keeping your driving privileges and your rights.

Colorado’s drunk driving laws

There are a few classifications for drunk driving in Colorado, each of which can carry either or both administrative or criminal penalties, even on a first offense:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI): a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is a misdemeanor on a first offense and carries fines, possible jail time, probation for up to 2 years and community service.
  • Driving while ability impaired (DWAI): a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08% can include penalties of jail and fines and also include mandatory public service.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID): limits of marijuana or THC of 5 mg/100ml has similar penalties to a DUI or DWAI

If the suspect refuses a blood or breath test after the officer has arrested them, they may receive an automatic 1-year suspension of driving privileges under implied consent laws. This refusal can later add to charges against them at trial.

Possible defenses to drunk driving charges

In a DUI case, often, the best defense is a strong offense. If the officer was suspicious that the driver was intoxicated, that is all it is without evidence to support their opinion. By questioning the officer’s actions before and during the arresting procedure, or challenging the accuracy of the blood or breath test, the defense team can expose inconsistencies that will make the case weaker.

There are also affirmative defenses, some of which may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances:

  • Mistake of fact, which could happen if the individual took prescription medication and was not aware that the effects had not worn off when they were driving.
  • Involuntary intoxication, when the individual consumed alcohol or took a product containing THC without their knowledge, for example when drinking spiked punch.
  • Entrapment, when the officer encouraged them to drink and then later stopped them for a DUI.