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DUI Defense Attorney in Fort Collins, Colorado

No matter what legal issue you find yourself entangled in, you owe it to yourself to hire an experienced and compassionate attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Some people, though, assume that drunk driving charges don’t need the same level of legal guidance. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A DUI conviction can bring with it consequences that extend far beyond simply having to pay a fine.

If you’ve been charged with DUI/DWAI in Colorado, reach out to a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC, I can help educate you about your options so you can make informed choices as you address your charges. 

For help in the Fort Collins area—including Loveland, Wellington, Estes Park, and throughout Larimer and Weld Counties—reach out to me to get started. 

DUI Charges in Colorado  

A Colorado drunk driving charge can either be classified as a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWAI (driving while ability impaired), and each has a slightly different implication depending on the degree of intoxication. Both charges cover intoxication by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. However, alcohol impairment has a more reliable test and measure. 

As is true in all states, alcohol intoxication is measured by testing your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which is typically done using a breath test (commonly called a breathalyzer). Drug impairment, on the other hand, is much more difficult to measure. Although there are chemical tests for drugs other than alcohol, these are unreliable at indicating your level of impairment at the time you were arrested. For example, if you submit to a urinalysis to test for THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), traces of the chemical can show up days or even weeks after you last used it when the effects of the drug have long worn off. Because of this, arresting officers are often forced to use their own observations to determine if someone is impaired by drugs.     

Lastly, there are some cases, however rare, where you can get a DUI even if you weren't actually driving the car. This is commonly referred to as being in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. For instance, say you pulled over to the side of the road because you realized you were too drunk to drive. If you remained in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition and the car on, law enforcement could still arrest you for a DUI. This is because you still were “in control” of the car and could have operated it immediately. 

Accused of Drunk Driving?

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In most states, if you have a BAC level above 0.08%, you’re considered to be “intoxicated” and can be issued a DUI. However, because Colorado has two distinct charges for drunk driving, it’s worth examining how they differ from one another.  

  • DUI: A DUI is the more severe of the two charges and is reserved for those who have a BAC of 0.08% or above. You can also receive a DUI for being under the influence of drugs. 

  • DWAI: DWAI are less serious charges (but should still be handled by a professional) and occur when you have a BAC of between 0.05% and 0.08%. This charge is for those who are “slightly” impaired on drugs or alcohol but impaired nonetheless.  

Sobriety Tests and Your Rights

In addition to a chemical test like a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test, you may also be asked to perform field sobriety tests. The most common field sobriety tests are the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the walk-and-turn. By state law, you implicitly consent to provide a chemical test if pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, but this is not true of field sobriety tests. 

If you’re pulled over for a DUI, you can legally refuse to perform a field sobriety test. However, if you do choose this option, you should always remain calm and polite. You should also be prepared for the prosecution to possibly use this fact against you during your trial—but remember, the burden of proof is not on you. You can’t be found guilty simply because you refused to take this test. 

Possible Penalties

In general, the possible DUI penalties in Colorado will increase the higher your level of intoxication and if you have previous DUI convictions on your record. Common penalties include:

  • fines 

  • license suspension 

  • jail time 

  • community service 

  • being required to complete a drug or alcohol intervention program 

  • participation in the Ignition Interlock Program 

Ignition Interlock Program

Many DUI penalties under Colorado law require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car for a certain amount of time. This device works by having the driver blow into it and if the device registers any alcohol, the car will not start. For first-time convictions, you'll be required to install an IID for eight months. For subsequent offenses or for those who had a BAC of 0.15% or higher, you will have to have an IID in your car for at least two years. 

DUI Defense Attorney in Fort Collins, Colorado 

No one should attempt to face DUI charges alone. You deserve to have a skilled attorney helping you through this difficult time. If you’re in the Fort Collins, Colorado area, reach out to me at The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC to discuss your options.