What should I do if I am arrested for DUI or DWAI?
An arrest for DUI or DWAI can have dramatic consequences. Your license is usually suspended. You may lose your job if a driver’s license is required. You may become ineligible for future employment that involves the use of a vehicle. Your insurance rates may go up. You may have to pay a large fine and enroll in expensive alcohol education and counseling courses. On top of all that there is the potential for jail time.
The penalties increase if you have prior convictions for DUI. Usually, DUI convictions will follow you for life. In Colorado you cannot have criminal records pertaining to a DUI sealed, even if the case was dismissed after a deferred judgment and sentence. The only way to seal criminal records pertaining to a DUI is if the case is dismissed outright, not as part of a plea bargain. A guilty plea to DUI stays on your record for life. The consequences of a DUI charge can be serious, and you should take the matter seriously.
When you are released from jail or detox you will usually receive a notice of license revocation. This notice might also come in the mail. It is important to act promptly when you receive this notice. You are allowed seven days after receiving the notice to request a hearing on your license revocation. You should always request the hearing on your license revocation! The hearing is usually scheduled at least 45 days after your request. When you request the hearing you are allowed to keep driving until the date of the hearing. This can give you more time to get your affairs in order and prepare for the possibility that you may lose your driver’s license.
What happens at the license revocation hearing?
The revocation hearing is conducted over the telephone. You will call in on the specified date along with the police officer and the judge. You should always request that the officer be present at the hearing. (There are some circumstances where you might not want the officer present but they are rare.) An attorney can be helpful at this stage. An attorney can usually obtain useful evidence in advance of the hearing. The hearing also provides your attorney an opportunity to elicit information from the officer which may be helpful in defending your criminal case. If the officer did not follow all of the rules when he arrested you the judge may allow you to keep your license. If the officer does not call in and appear at the hearing, you win. Police have to deal with the same complications of life that everyone else does. If they are injured, or they just get caught in traffic, they may be unable to appear and you may win by default.
What can an attorney do for me if I am charged with DUI or DWAI?
1. Obtain evidence and evaluate your case.
An attorney can obtain evidence which may be useful in defending your case. Often, there is video of your interactions with the police. Some police wear body cameras and lapel microphones that record most of their actions. Sometimes there is dashcam footage which can be obtained. Video evidence may help establish that the police did not have probable cause for your arrest. Police reports can also be obtained. Police reports give you the officers’ version of events so that you are on notice of the accusations against you and can prepare a defense. There are also reports of any chemical analysis that was done. If a blood sample was taken an attorney can have it re-tested by an independent testing facility.
2. Exercise procedural rules to win your case.
If there are facts to support a motion to suppress evidence an attorney may request a hearing and have the judge decide if some or all of the evidence against you should be excluded. The arresting officer must be present at the hearing and you have the right to subpoena other witnesses. At the hearing the judge will examine whether or not there was reasonable suspicion for the police to stop you and probable cause for the police to arrest you. The burden is on the state to show that both the stop and the arrest were lawful. There are also statutory protections which operate to exclude certain evidence, so that it cannot be considered. For example, the results of a portable breathalyzer test are not admissible as evidence against you (except in probable cause determinations), and the results of the more advanced breathalyzer test taken at the jail or police station have limited admissibility if the test was taken more than two hours after the time of driving. The prosecutor cannot offer inadmissible evidence and the judge and jury cannot consider it. If the judge orders that crucial evidence should be suppressed your case may be dismissed.
3. Challenge the state’s evidence at a trial.
The prosecutor must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden is on the state to prove that you are guilty. You don’t have to prove anything. An attorney can challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you. You may not have been drinking at all. The breathalyzer may have been improperly calibrated or administered. The blood sample may have been tainted. The technicians may have had insufficient training to perform the tests. If the proper procedures weren’t followed it casts doubt on the reliability of the state’s evidence. A good attorney knows how to draw out this kind of evidence and create doubt in the minds of jurors. If the prosecutor can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while your ability was impaired, then the jury must find you not guilty.
4. Representation in plea negotiations and sentencing.
Sometimes it is in your best interests to accept a plea bargain from the prosecutor. An attorney can negotiate the terms of your plea and advise you of any alternatives. If you receive a favorable offer, the judge can still reject the plea bargain at your sentencing hearing. An attorney can argue on your behalf at sentencing and present evidence in your favor.
Contact Marshall R. Sumrall for a free consultation.
If you need representation for a DUI or DWAI offense call attorney Marshall R. Sumrall today for a free consultation, or inquire online and receive a response within 24 hours. Colorado’s DUI enforcement policy has developed into a complex machine that is often confusing to navigate. Whether you are local or were visiting from out of town, Mr. Sumrall is here to assist you with your DUI, DWAI, or DUID case.