This Is My First DUI. What Should I Expect?
April 12, 2023
In Colorado, a motorist could be arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a BAC of 0.08% or more. If convicted of drunk driving, the defendant could be subject to hefty fines, lengthy imprisonment, loss of driving privileges, a criminal record, and other severe consequences. With your driving record, career, and future on the line, it is normal to feel terrified and overwhelmed when charged with DUI.
At The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC, I have devoted my career to protecting individuals wrongfully charged with DUI from the worst possible punishments. As an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney, I can investigate every aspect of your case and enlighten you about what to expect when charged with your first DUI offense.
DUI Charges in Colorado
Under Colorado law, impaired driving can be categorized into the following:
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – A person may be charged with DUI for driving a vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) – A person may be charged with DWAI for driving a motor vehicle while "ability impaired" – or slightly impaired – by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
DUI per se – A person may be found guilty of driving under the influence for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08%.
On reasonable suspicion of drunk driving in Colorado, the police can stop your car and ask you to take some DUI tests. A knowledgeable lawyer can enlighten you about your rights with DUI tests after a DUI stop or arrest.
DUI Tests and Your Rights
As mentioned earlier, the police may ask you to take some DUI tests – such as field sobriety tests and chemical tests – to determine if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Under Colorado law, field sobriety tests are voluntary, and you're not required to submit to them. Also, there are no penalties for refusal.
In contrast, chemical tests – such as breath, blood, saliva, or urine tests – are mandatory under Colorado's express consent law if the police officer can establish probable cause for drunk driving. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test after a lawful arrest can result in automatic license suspension, fines, and other administrative penalties.
What to Expect
It’s important to be aware of the processes you'll go through after a DUI or DWAI. Having relevant knowledge can help you be prepared and navigate each step with more confidence than you would otherwise. Here’s an overview of what to expect:
Arrest & Chemical Testing: After a DUI arrest, the police officer will put you into custody. Samples of your breath, blood, and urine will be collected for chemical testing.
Automatic License Suspension: If you refuse a chemical test or the result shows that you have BAC above the legal limit, the arresting officer will issue an Express Consent Affidavit and Notice of Revocation to you. You will have up to seven days to request a DMV hearing.
DMV Hearing: The DMV hearing is an administrative procedure, just like a court trial. During the DMV hearing, you can challenge:
Whether the police officer had probable cause to stop your vehicle or arrest you.
Whether your BAC was over the legal limit.
Depending on the outcome of the DMV hearing, your license may be reinstated, or you may be arraigned in court.
DUI Arraignment: At the DUI arraignment, the judge will read you your charges and legal rights. In addition, you may be required to enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest). If you plead not guilty, your case will move to the pretrial conference.
Pretrial Conference: At the pretrial conference, your attorney will meet with the prosecutor to review and exchange evidence, negotiate a reduced charge, or fight for potential dismissal. Your legal counsel will evaluate your prospects of a favorable outcome and determine if you should go to trial.
Trial: During the court trial, the judge will assess the evidence against you, question the police officer, listen to arguments from both attorneys, and determine whether you’re guilty or not guilty.
Want to learn more? A skilled Colorado DUI/DWAI attorney can enlighten you about the nature of your charges, the potential consequences, and represent you diligently at every phase of the legal process.
Possible Penalties for a First Offense
If convicted of a first DUI offense in Colorado, here are some of the possible penalties and consequences you might face:
Massive fines and court fees
Court-imposed license revocation
Mandatory attendance at driver's intervention program.
An ignition interlock device (IID)
Loss of your rights to carry or possess a firearm
Increased difficulty in getting a new job, accommodation, and public assistance.
Ineligibility to obtain certain financial loans
Damage to professional and personal relationships
Increased auto insurance rates
Loss of scholarships, university acceptance, and other educational opportunities
A criminal record/history
Fortunately, you can avoid any of the above punishments by fighting your DUI charges. A highly-skilled lawyer can strategize a solid defense to fight your allegations and help you avoid or mitigate the far-reaching penalties and ramifications of a drunk driving conviction.
Understand Your Next Steps
Trying to defend your DUI accusations without reliable representation can possibly expose you to the risks of getting convicted. Unfortunately, a first drunk driving conviction could jeopardize your freedom, personal reputation, quality of life, and future. Therefore, when charged with a DUI, you need to retain an aggressive criminal defense lawyer for detailed guidance and to help build your defense.
With over 10 years of extensive experience, I have the skill and diligence to defend and represent clients in their DUI cases. Contact me at The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC, today to schedule a simple case assessment. I can offer you the skilled representation and guidance you need to navigate the Colorado criminal justice system. My firm proudly serves clients across Fort Collins, Colorado, and throughout Larimer and Weld Counties, including Windsor, Wellington, Loveland, Estes Park, Greeley, and Johnstown.