A DUI arrest in Colorado can be a frightening experience. You may be worried about your job and your future. The state has harsh penalties for DUI convictions, and conviction rates are high. In fact, 88% of DUI cases in 2016 resulted in the defendant being found guilty. Fewer than 1% of defendants were found not guilty, and less than 10% of cases were outright dismissed.
What Do I Do After A DUI Arrest?
It’s important to talk to an experienced Denver DUI attorney to handle your case, but knowing what you’re up against can help you prepare for what’s ahead. Here are five of the most common questions people ask after being arrested for DUI in Colorado.
1. Should I Agree to Take Field Sobriety Tests?
No. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and there is no penalty for refusing them. The officer may not tell you that these tests are voluntary, and instead, may tell you to get out of the vehicle and start performing them.
You have the right to refuse these tests. Be polite but firm when refusing these tests, and do not make any other statements. Afterward, contact a DUI lawyer right away.
2. What Happens if I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?
Technically, you can refuse to take a blood or breath test, but declining to take these tests can have significant consequences.
If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test in Colorado, you may lose your license for a year.
Along with losing driving privileges, the District Attorney will also look at how you refused to take these tests. Your refusal won’t look good in the eyes of the jury. They may look at your refusal as evidence that you had something to hide.
If an officer requires you to submit to chemical testing, a roadside breath test will not satisfy this requirement. You will need to take the Intoxilyzer test or a blood test.
3. What are the Penalties of Drunk Driving?
Colorado has strict DUI laws. In 2017, the state took steps to make these laws even tougher.
“In 2017, with so many safe alternatives available, those who continue to shamelessly disregard the safety of our law-abiding citizens, and brazenly ignore our laws by driving under the influence deserve the swiftest and strongest punishments,” said Senator John Cooke, who presented House Bill 17-1288.
The bill, which was signed into law, modifies the probation and penalty conditions for those who commit a fourth subsequent DUI. Under the new law, probation requirements must include one of the following:
- Mandatory jail sentence of at least 90 days, but no more than 180 days in county jail. Individuals will not be eligible for a reduced sentence for good behavior, but they may receive credit for time served on a prior conviction.
- Serve a mandatory sentence of 120 days in county jail, but no more than two years through an alternative sentencing program.
In addition, probation requirements will also include:
- 48-120 hours of public service
- Completion of level II alcohol and drug driving education program
Other conditions may also be required by law.
A first-time offender also faces severe consequences, including:
- License suspension
- Criminal record
The conviction of a first-time DUI in Colorado can include:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- A minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 1 year in jail
- License suspension for up to 9 months
- 96 hours of community service
- Attending alcohol education programs
Drivers with BAC levels of 0.15% or higher may be considered a “persistent drunk driver,” even if this is their first time being arrested. A mandatory ignition interlock device may be required for at least two years.
The court may require you to attend alcohol education classes as a condition to get your license reinstated. These programs have a fee to participate.
4. Do I Have to Answer Police Questions?
No. You are required to identify yourself, but otherwise, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any incriminating questions. If you do make any statements or answer questions, whatever you say will be used as evidence against you.
Politely decline to answer officer questions.
5. What Happens During a DMV Hearing?
After a DUI arrest, you have 7 days to request a DMV license hearing. If you don’t request a hearing, your license will automatically be suspended.
You will need to go to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to request the hearing, and the request must be in writing.
The hearing may be in person or over the phone. You will be informed of the meeting’s format.
During the hearing, you will be informed of the purpose of the hearing, and you will be able to ask questions about the procedure. However, the Hearing Officer cannot provide legal advice.
In an express consent case, the officer will testify first, and you will have the opportunity to ask any relevant questions. Otherwise, the Hearing Officer will review the evidence with you, and you will also be able to present evidence. Witnesses may testify on your behalf, and you are not required to testify.
The First Step to Take After a DUI Arrest
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Colorado, the first step is to call an experienced Denver DUI attorney. Time is of the essence – you only have 7 days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV before your license is automatically suspended. Get your free consultation today.