No one should ever drive drunk. Unfortunately, alcohol inhibits the decision making process and leads many people to drive drunk anyway.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), over 300,000 people drive drunk every day.
In 2014, there were more than 1.1 million DUI arrests in the United States and about one-third of those drivers were repeat offenders.
In Colorado, 28,198 people were arrested for DUIs in 2015. Though this is a small fraction of our state’s population, it’s not a small number of drunk drivers. This is substantial when you consider the fact that only 1 percent of all drunk drivers are actually arrested.
The best way you can protect yourself from getting a DUI is to drink responsibly and call for a ride. But, if you do make the mistake of driving drunk, here is what to expect if you are charged with DUI.
You’ll be arrested, taken to detox or released to a sober party.
In Colorado, if you are suspected of drunk driving, you will be asked to take a Breathalyzer or a blood test. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent or higher, you will be charged for a DUI.
If your BAC is between .05 and .08 percent, you’ll be charged for driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
If you take a blood test, you will likely be charged with a DUI until your blood results come in, which can be weeks or months from the date of your test being taken.
If you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, you will have your license confiscated and be, most likely, charged with a DUI.
You will receive a court date.
If you are charged with DUI or DWAI, you’ll receive a court summons. During court proceedings, evidence showing that you were driving drunk will be presented. You will have the option of pleading innocent or guilty.
Your driver’s license could be suspended.
Whether your license is confiscated when you are pulled over or after your court date will depend on the circumstances. In Colorado, the penalties for your license vary greatly depending on several factors, including but not limited to, BAC, prior offenses, refusal, etc.
You’ll be assessed fines.
Exactly what you’ll pay depends on your situation. In general, first time DUI offenders may have to pay up to $1,000 and DWAI offenders could pay fines up to $500. These fines increase with additional offenses.
You could go to jail.
Whether you face jail time depends on the circumstances of your case and the judge ruling over it.
First time DUI offenders could face up to a year and DWAI offenders up to 180 days. Second and third DUI and DWAI offenders can receive up to a year of jail time.
Additionally, BAC and prior offenses can lead to mandatory minimum jail sentences and even felony charges if there are three or more prior offenses.
You may face probation as well.
Probation for DUI and DWAI in Colorado can be supervised or unsupervised. You may serve probation in place of going to jail or in addition to jail time. It really all depends on the unique circumstances of your case.
You will be required to submit to an alcohol evaluation.
During the evaluation, a trainer counselor will ask you questions about your drinking habits. This process will determine whether you have a drinking problem and need further help.
Depending on your alcohol evaluation, you will attend differing amounts of alcohol classes and therapy.
Most DUI and DWAI offenders are required to go to alcohol education and therapy to take classes on the dangers of drunk driving. If your alcohol evaluation reveals you have a drinking problem, you could be required to go to counseling or rehab.
Your car could be impounded.
If your case is serious enough, your car could be impounded. Most of the time, your car won’t be taken. Instead, you’ll be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in your car that tests your BAC, preventing you from starting it if your BAC is too high.
Your insurance will change.
Your premiums could go up or you could lose your current insurance coverage entirely. In certain situations, the state of Colorado may require you to obtain SR-22 insurance, to get your license back.
Your record will never be the same.
Once you have a DUI that’s it. It will be on your record forever. It will show up during background checks and could affect your ability to have certain jobs. There is no way to expunge a DUI or DWAI from your record unless you are a minor.
DUI and DWAI FAQs
Now you know what will happen following a DUI or DWAI charge. Even with this information, chances are there is still a lot about drunk driving charges you don’t know. Below are some of the most common questions the defense attorneys at Wolf Law receive in regards to DUI and DWAI cases.
Q: Is there a defense for my case?
Every case is different. There are occasionally situations where legal loopholes or technical errors could change the outcome of your case. To find out if there might be a defense for your situation, contact Wolf Law.
Q: How do I get my license back?
When your license is suspended, you’ll receive information from the Colorado DMV regarding when the suspension ends. To get your license back, you’ll have to show that you’ve completed or are completing any punishment you’ve received. You will need to obtain proof of insurance and pay fees to have your license reinstated. You may also have to retake the written and driving portions of the driver’s license test.
Q: This is my first offense. Will I go to jail?
Not necessarily. Whether or not the judge sentences you to jail time depends on the details of your case.
Q: Will I have to go to court?
Yes. There is almost no way to avoid going to court unless the charges against you are dropped for some reason.
Q: Do I have to take a chemical blood test?
You don’t have to, however refusing the blood test can result in more problems and prolonged license suspension.
Q: Can I speak to a lawyer before taking a BAC test?
No. In Colorado you don’t have the right to speak to an attorney before taking a BAC test. Requesting an attorney in this scenario constitutes a refusal.
Q: Do I have to take a roadside sobriety test?
No. In fact, you should refuse. Though Breathalyzers are required in Colorado, field sobriety tests are not mandatory and you cannot be penalized for refusing one. If you have been drinking you will almost certainly fail a field sobriety test and that can further harm your case. In most cases, even if you have not been drinking you will fail the roadside field sobriety tests. There is no reason to do them whatsoever.
Q: Can a police officer question me before reading me my Miranda rights?
That depends on whether you are in police custody or not. If you are pulled over on the grounds of a traffic stop, police officers do not have to read your rights. Once you are arrested, you must be read your rights before you can be questioned.
Q: What happens if I am not read my Miranda rights?
This rarely happens but, if it does, it could change the outcome of your case. If you aren’t read your rights, anything you say post-arrest cannot be used against you in court. It is important to note, however, that anything you say before you are read your rights can and will be used against you.
Q: So what should I say if a police officer pulls me over and asks if I’ve been drinking?
Nothing. You have a right to remain silent and your silence cannot be used against you.
Q: Will an attorney from Wolf Law represent me from start to finish?
Yes. The moment you start working with us, we are here for you 24/7.
Q: How much will my DUI case cost me?
That depends on your situation. Some cases take more resources and more time to handle properly and others do not. We can discuss payment further in your initial free consultation.
Whether you were driving drunk or have been falsely accused, a DUI or DWAI conviction is not something to take lightly.
A conviction like this could change your life forever, causing you to lose your license, your car, your job, and more. If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWAI, call Wolf Law at 720-479-8574 and get the help you need.