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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Colorado?

  • How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer in Colorado?

    The cost of hiring a DUI attorney in Colorado can vary greatly between attorneys, but the reality is, hiring the wrong DUI attorney, may actually ending up costing you far more in the long run, and may even be worse than hiring no one at all. For this reason, you should at least speak with a skilled DUI attorney, before deciding who to hire. But make no mistake, you should not base your choice of an attorney solely on price. Choosing a lawyer is a highly personal decision, and I recommend you sit down with a number of attorneys, until you find the one who you’re most comfortable with.

    Legal fees can be daunting, especially when you didn’t plan on getting a criminal charge, but in the long run, the cost of hiring a skilled lawyer pales in comparison to the cost associated with a bad outcome. A DUI is a serious charge, which can impact you significantly in the future. You may be denied employment, or housing, not to mention the actual costs associated with the case itself. Some DUI attorneys charge a low fee because the will encourage you to take a plea very quickly, while others simply don’t have the experience to deal with the case.

    Most attorneys will charge a flat fee for DUI representation, but it’s important you know what that flat fee entails. Is there an extra charge for the DMV hearing? What about motions hearings, or trial? In general, I charge a flat fee, which is based on the anticipated work involved in the case. For that reason, there’s not a standard cost, and the fee varies from case to case, depending on a number of factors. Fee are individually tailored based on the case. While my firm isn’t cheapest in town, my fees are in line with the reputation I’ve earned and results I regularly obtain. Because I charge a flat fee, you know precisely what the costs associated with representation will entail. There’s no surprises or hidden fees. The bottom line is that you should never base your choice of an attorney on their price. Keep in mind that there’s a reason some attorneys charge more than others, and choosing the wrong attorney to represent you may end up becoming a very expensive mistake. I always offer a free consultation, where the costs associated with representation are clearly outlined, allowing you to make the most informed decision possible.

    Steve Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney and DUI defense lawyer in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve is a former prosecutor and has been named as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers for the past four years, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense for the past three years, and named as a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2014 and 2015. Steve has been selected by the Denver Post as one of the Top Attorneys in Colorado in 2014 and 2015 and holds the rating of “10/10 Superb” from Avvo.com.

  • Will Your DUI Case Get Dismissed if the Cop Didn’t Read You Your Miranda Rights?

    One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether or not the police officer needs to read your rights to you, after they contact you for a DUI. Unfortunately, there’s not really an easy answer. The idea of “reading your rights”, or giving the Miranda warning, comes from a 1966 United States Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. I won’t bore you with the details of the case, but the ruling is important. The Court held that “the defendant must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 479 (1966). In short, the police do not have to advise you of your rights unless you are in custody and being interrogated.

    So what is custodial interrogation? Again, no easy answer. The Colorado Supreme Court has held that “to determine whether a suspect was in custody, we ask whether a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would have felt deprived of his freedom of action to the degree associated with a formal arrest”. People v. Taylor, 41 P.3d 681, 691 (Colo.2002). But even this isn’t a clear answer. Anytime the law uses a “reasonable person” standard, things get messy. The following nine factors are considered to determine whether or not someone’s in custody for the purposes of Miranda:

    • the time, place and purpose of the encounter;
    • the persons present during the interrogation;
    • the words spoken by the officer to the defendant;
    • the officer’s tone of voice and general demeanor;
    • the length and mood of the interrogation;
    • whether any limitation of movement or other form of restraint was placed on the defendant during the interrogation;
    • the officer’s response to any questions asked by the defendant;
    • whether directions were given to the defendant during the interrogation;
    • the defendant’s verbal or nonverbal response to such directions.

    People v. Hankins, 201 P.3d 1218,1218-1219 (Colo.2009)

    So assuming the first prong of Miranda is met, that you are in custody, the next question turns to whether or not the government is interrogating you after you have been taken into custody. If you’re in custody, but the officer isn’t asking you any incriminating questions, the police officer does not have to advise you of your Miranda rights. They aren’t attempting to obtain incriminating information through your waiver of your 5th Amendment Right against self incrimination. Conversely, if you are not in “custody”, but the officer is interrogating you, they don’t have to advise you of Miranda because, logically, you can break off the contact at any time, simply by leaving.

    Now to the heart of the matter. If you were in custody and being interrogated and the officer failed to properly advise you of your Miranda rights, it still doesn’t mean that the case will be dismissed. Rather, there’s a concept in criminal law called the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine”, which says all evidence obtained through illegal government conduct, is suppressed from being entered at trial, as it is fruit of the poisonous tree. In practice, this means that the illegally obtained statements will not be admissible at trial to prove your guilt. Now, if the only evidence the government has to prove your guilt are those statements, then the case very well may be dismissed. Usually, however, in a DUI case, the driver’s statements are icing on the cake, so to speak. More often than not, there are physical observations (odor of alcohol, bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech to name the most common), subjective tests (ie. the field sobriety tests), a chemical test, and potentially other indicia of impairment, like bad driving for instance. It is very uncommon for a DUI case to be dismissed solely because due to a Miranda violation. However, that doesn’t mean that if there was a Miranda violation, you shouldn’t pursue it. Anything you can do to weaken the government’s case, should be done. Often times, in DUI defense particularly, the weaker and more difficult to prove the case becomes for the prosecutor, the better the offer or outcome is for you. Because of the complexity of DUI defense, it’s best to speak to an attorney who devotes a large majority of their practice to defending drivers accused of DUI. You have to much at stake to try and go at it alone.

    Steve Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney and DUI defense lawyer in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve is a former prosecutor and has been named as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers for the past four years, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense for the past three years, and named as a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2014 and 2015. Steve has been selected by the Denver Post as one of the Top Attorneys in Colorado in 2014 and 2015 and holds the rating of “10/10 Superb” from Avvo.com. More information can be found at www.coloradospringscriminaldefense.net.

  • DUI Classes in Colorado. An Overview of Level II Education and Therapy

    If you receive a DUI charge in Colorado, chances are, you’ll have to do some kind of DUI classes/therapy through a state certified treatment provider. In fact, it’s possible to have the criminal charges outright dismissed and still have to do the DUI classes, since the DMV also requires it. So if you lose your license at DMV and you want to reinstate your license early, or if you were a high BAC offender or had a refusal, regardless of whether or not you want to early reinstate, you’ll need to do those classes.

    Colorado’s DUI treatment system consists of two parts, Level II alcohol education (or in the instance of a minor charged with a DUI and the BAC is greater than a .02 but less than a .08, a level I class), followed by therapy. Generally, you will have to complete an alcohol evaluation through the probation department in your jurisdiction, where they’ll assign you a specific “track”, A-D, which corresponds to the number of hours of therapy. Track A consists of 42 hours of therapy, track B is 52 hours of therapy, track C is 68 hours of therapy, and track D is 86 hours of therapy.

    The level II education consists of 12, two hour DUI classes, for a total of 24 hours, of which you’re not allowed to attend more than one class a week. So if you complete Level II without missing a class, it will take twelve weeks to finish. You must complete Level II education before starting the therapy component. Level II education is group based, and focuses on the risks and problems associated with drug and alcohol use, and how to reduce the risks as much as possible. Level II also examines the medical, legal, and social impacts of alcohol and drug use, as well as the implications of use, the signs of use and addiction, and the social costs of use and addiction. Finally, people of ask why its called Level II and if there’s a Level I. Level I education is for minors, whose BAC is less than a .08, but greater than .02, at the time of driving. Level I is 12 hours in length, and focuses on the same topics as Level II education.

    The therapy component of the treatment is also group based, however, you’ll find that the topics and issues addressed vary from provider to provider, much more than Level II education. In theory, the therapy component examines the reasons behind substance abuse/addiction, co-occurring disorders, establishing a strong peer and family support system, and addressing the impact of substance abuse on others. While not nearly as comprehensive or effective as a program like AA or ALANON, the therapy component is supposed to be much more introspective than the Level II component.

    Finally, DMV requires that an evaluation be completed and the recommendations are followed, prior to early reinstatement, or reinstatement in general if the underlying BAC was .150 or higher at the time of driving, or you refused to comply with the chemical test. Since the evaluation is generally completed by the probation department, when you are early reinstating your license, you will need to enroll in track D, prior to sending the reinstatement packet to DMV. Once the evaluation is completed by the probation department, the “track”, can later be modified. I the event that the criminal case is dismissed, or your beat the criminal charges at trial, DMV wil still require the education/therapy, and in that instance, you’ll need to do the evaluation through a state certified treatment provider.

    To find a state certified treatment provider near you, you can go to http://www.colorado.gov/cdhs/dbh, for a list of providers near you. The cost and time associated with a DUI can be significant, and this is not something you want to go at alone. If you received a DUI in Colorado, its best to contact an attorney who devotes a significant amount of their practice to DUI defense, you’ll find that a good attorney is well worth the cost.

    Steve Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney and dui defense lawyer in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve is a former prosecutor and has been named as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers for the past four years, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense for the past three years, and named as a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2014 and 2015. Steve has been selected by the Denver Post as one of the Top Attorneys in Colorado in 2014 and 2015 and holds the rating of “10/10 Superb” from Avvo.com. More information can be found at www.coloradospringscriminaldefense.net

  • Arrested for a DUI in Colorado? This is what you can expect…

    You made a mistake. You’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI (or DWAI, or DUID). Here’s what you can you expect as you navigate this complex process. First, I need to state, I practice mainly in El Paso County (Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas), and while I’ve appeared in Court’s throughout the State, each Judicial District is different, especially with how they deal with the way a case works it’s way through the system. Most of the information here is general and will apply regardless of the Judicial District, but some will be more specific to a DUI in El Paso County.

    First thing first, did you do a blood test, breath test or refuse the chemical test? If you gave a blood test, you do not need to do anything within the first seven days after your arrest. Both vials of blood are sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for chemical testing. One vial is tested and kept by the State, the other can be re-tested by a lab of your choosing. Once the State’s test is completed, they will notify the police officer of the results. Assuming the results are greater than a .08 (or 5 nanograms of delta-9 THC in the case of a marijuana DUI), the officer will file a document called a “Notice of Express Consent Affidavit” with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When DMV receives that document, they will send a letter to the address they have on file (or the address the officer listed on the Express Consent document), stating that they have received notice that you were contacted by a law enforcement officer and submitted to a blood test and the results were XYZ. The letter will tell you that if you do not request a hearing by the date at the top of the letter then your privileges to drive will be revoked. It is imperative that DMV has your correct address, so it may be beneficial to go to DMV ahead of time and submit a change of address if you have moved or if the Officer listed a different address on your charges, then the address where you currently reside. It is also imperative that you request a hearing prior to the date the revocation defaults (more on requesting a hearing below). Now if you did a breath test, or you refused the chemical test, the officer will give you the Notice of Express Consent Affidavit directly (only in rare circumstances, like if the breath test was completed in more than two hours after you were contacted, will you not get this document if you did a breath test). You have seven days from the date you were arrested to go to DMV and request a hearing if you did a breath test or refused. Failure to do so means the revocation will go into effect on the 8th day.

    Regarding the hearing request, you must make this request in writing, but its best to take the Express Consent Affidavit, or, in the case of a blood test, the letter you received, with you to the DMV and they have a form you will fill out. Now, the regulations say that this request can be made at any DMV branch, but in practice, I advise my clients to go to the main DMV office for their city, or county, because I have found many of the smaller offices turn people away. When you fill out the hearing request form, one of the questions they will ask is whether or not you want the officer present at the hearing. If you talk to a hundred DUI attorneys, chances are 70 will tell you to say yes and 30 will tell you to say no. I’m in the minority. I tell clients to request the officer not be present at the hearing, and the reason for this is that we want to see what the reports say first. You can always subpoena the officer later on, but once you say yes, that can’t be changed. The reason this is important is that sometimes the officer’s reports will not be sufficient to justify a revocation, and if the officer isn’t there, the only evidence they have are the reports. I don’t want to afford the officer the opportunity to show up at the hearing and correct or supplement the reports, whereby they provide enough additional evidence to justify the revocation. If you plan on hiring an attorney, you will want to discuss this with your counsel.

    The hearing must be held within 60 days of the request being made (absent the officer or DMV changing the date for “good cause”), but you will be permitted to continue driving until the hearing date. Generally, about a 21 days after the request is made, you will receive a packet of police reports and other documents in the mail, and then about a week later, you’ll receive a second letter which has the date, time and location of the hearing on it. If you’ve hired an attorney, let them know as soon as you receive either letter, but especially the one with the hearing date and time on it, so they can get the hearing on their calendar.

    I won’t go into what needs to be proven at the specific hearing, but I will say that on a first offense, if you did a blood or breath test and the results were above a .08, if you lose the hearing, you cannot drive for 30 days, then you must submit the Application for Reinstatement, the Alcohol Certification Form, the Affidavit of Enrollment, the Restricted License Agreement (interlock), a check for $95.00 and proof of SR-22. If your BAC was under a .150, you are considered a “low BAC offender” and must have interlock for 9 months, but if your BAC is .150 or greater, you are considered a “high BAC offender” and must have interlock for 24 months. If you refused the chemical test, and you lose the hearing, you cannot drive for 60 days, then must comply with the same reinstatement process, however, you must have interlock for 24 months. Because it takes DMV 20 days to process the reinstatement packet, I make sure my clients have gotten those forms out no less than 20 days prior to the date they are eligible for early reinstatement.

    As for what happens in Court, you will be given a date for a first appearance on your ticket. Failure to appear at that date will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. At that hearing you will be advised of the charges against you and the possible penalties (most likely through a video), and then you may or may not have the opportunity to meet with a DA to hear their offer. Some jurisdictions (especially the smaller ones) do this differently, but generally this is what you can expect. From there if you take the offer, the case may be set for sentencing, at which point you will need to complete an alcohol evaluation through the probation department, or you may go to immediate sentencing and complete the evaluation through probation at a later date. If you reject the offer, the case will likely be set for trial.

    I’m often asked if someone really needs an attorney for a DUI charge, and my answer is always a resounding “YES, whether you hire me, or someone else who does a good job and has a good reputation, hire someone”. DUI cases are complex, and the consequences are severe. After handling literally thousands of DUI’s as a prosecutor and now as a defense attorney, I can tell you that no two cases are the same. Sometimes people think that the prosecution has them dead to rights and there’s no reason to spend the money on an attorney. While it’s true that there are cases that are very easy for a DA to prove at trial, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have representation. There’s still many things a good attorney can do to mitigate the consequences, resulting in a reduced plea and costs, or lesser treatment or jail time, all the way down to the costs of the case. Most people find that they actually spend less money overall by hiring an attorney, than they would without the attorney. Other times, people will question the need for an attorney because they have a minimal criminal history, or their BAC wasn’t that high, or whatever. The DA’s office doesn’t give deals because your nice and they certainly don’t dismiss cases for that reason. They find; however; that they’re treated just like everyone else and that this is very serious. Again, while I’m happy to represent you, whether you choose me to represent you, or someone else, don’t make the mistake of not having a competent attorney with a proven history of good results. Don’t be afraid to ask about the attorney’s experience, but more importantly recent trial outcomes. Don’t expect to hear the attorney wins every case, because no one does, but you want someone who’s regularly in trial (trying 10 to 15 cases per year at a minimum). You’ll find that good representation will make all the difference in the outcome.

    Steve Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney and dui defense lawyer in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve is a former prosecutor and has been named as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers for the past four years, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense for the past three years, and named as a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers in 2014 and 2015. Steve has been selected by the Denver Post as one of the Top Attorneys in Colorado in 2014 and 2015 and holds the rating of “10/10 Superb” from Avvo.com. More information can be found at www.coloradospringscriminaldefense.net.

  • Why Colorado’s Proposed Felony DUI Law is a Bad Idea

    It seems like just about every year the Colorado Legislature takes up the idea of creating a felony DUI law. Currently, Colorado joins Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Maine, as one of only five states that do not have some form of a felony DUI law. While most states make a third or subsequent offense a felony, there are a few, including New York, which actually make a second DUI within 10 years a felony offense.

    The problem with felony DUI laws, including Colorado’s proposed law, is that there’s no evidence they are effective in actually reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road or reducing fatal alcohol related traffic accidents. According to MADD.org, in 2013, 28.5% of fatal traffic accidents involved alcohol in Colorado. Comparatively, in New York 30.4% of fatal traffic accidents involved alcohol, in South Dakota that number is also 30.4%, in Oklahoma, 25.1% and in California, 28.1%. All four of those states have robust felony DUI laws. Moreover, MADD currently gives Colorado 5 stars for our DUI enforcement and prevention efforts, while Oklahoma, New York and California are given 4 stars, and South Dakota is only ranked 2 stars for their efforts to prevent and enforce DUI laws. While the four states listed above are only represent a sampling of DUI laws across the country, nationwide about 29% of all fatal traffic accidents involve alcohol. Clearly, robust felony DUI laws do little to lower the number of people killed by drunk drivers, which is ultimately the purpose DUI enforcement to begin with.

    So then why should Colorado spend an estimated $29.7 million dollars over the next four years on more laws, which are demonstrably ineffective at preventing DUI related deaths? That’s not to mention the additional stress on an already overburdened legal system, the realities of a felony conviction on an individual’s ability to be a functioning a productive member of the community, and the additional stress to the prison system. The reality is that felony DUI laws overlook the fundamental nature of a DUI offense, alcohol impairs a person’s ability to make decisions and alcohol addiction leads to repeated DUI arrests. It’s for this very reason that the ignition interlock, strong dram shop liability laws, adequate public transportation systems and effective addiction treatment for repeat offenders are far more effective at curtailing the number of drunk drivers on the road, and ultimately alcohol related traffic deaths, than further criminalization could ever be.

    For a state which has now legalized marijuana use and sale, I’m disappointed Colorado isn’t willing to consider legislation that could actually be effective. First, the ignition interlock is a proven and effective tool in reducing drunk drivers, it all but makes it impossible to drive drunk. Expanding both the interlock laws and furthering interlock technology is an effective way to prevent drunk drivers, while allowing those previously convicted to still maintain employment and work toward rehabilitation. Next, consider expanding the dram shop liability laws. As a society, we’re afraid to hold bars and alcohol companies responsible for drunk drivers actions, which is a shame. While we’ll gladly hold a gun manufacturer liable for the actions of their customers, or a tobacco company responsible for the obvious consequences of using their product, the notion of holding a bar responsible when they pump drinks into a customer and watch them walk out the door and drive off is completely foreign. I’m certainly not advocating placing the responsibility for their customer’s actions on solely on the shoulders of a bar, yet it’s foolish to believe they are unable to foresee their customers are walking out the door and driving home. Finally, effective and early treatment of alcohol addiction is a necessity. The current mandatory treatment scheme for DUI offenders is absolutely laughable. I challenge any member of the legislature or the governor to actually attend the mandated treatment before further voting or approving further criminalization. I’m confident they’ll come away demanding change.

    Finally, specialty courts such as DUI specific courts have already proven incredibly effective at reducing recidivism. Specialty courts, while only offered in a small number of jurisdictions, incorporate effective individually tailored treatment programs with thorough monitoring and frequent oversight, all while incentivizing success by actually reducing the amount of incarceration an offender faces. Offender’s cases are managed and staffed by a treatment team to include therapists, probation officers, Judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel. All of whom are present at every court date. Family involvement and personal accountability is also encouraged and offenders are expected to appear in court frequently during the duration of the case, generally 2-3 years. After successful completion of the program, the likelihood of reoffending is dramatically decreased.

    The old model of “lock’em up and throw away the key” has already proven ineffective at addressing drug addiction, why should we think it would be effective at addressing alcohol addiction? If Colorado truly wants to meaningfully address drunk driving, there are ways to do so, unfortunately, simply changing the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony in hopes that prison will address the issue, is not the way to do so. Colorado’s proposed legislation cannot and will not address the problem of drunk driving.

    -Steven Rodemer, Esq.

    Steve Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve has been named as one of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers for the past four years, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense and was named as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers in 2014 and 2015. Steve has also achieved a “10/10 superb” rating by Avvo.com. More information can be found at www.coloradospringscriminaldefense.net.

    Steve can be reached at:

    Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC

    90 South Cascade Avenue

    Suite 1420

    Colorado Springs, CO

    80903

    (719) 635-7886

    www.coloradospringscriminaldefense.net

  • Preparing for an Alcohol Evaluation in Colorado

    In Colorado, most jurisdictions use the alcohol evaluation to determine the treatment/classes you’ll be required to complete as part of any sentence in a DUI/DWAI case. Generally, the evaluation is completed through the probation department in the jurisdiction where the case is charged, but there are ways to get another jurisdiction to complete a “courtesy evaluation” in the event you live in a different county. Take the evaluation seriously. Show up 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment, dress nicely, and by all means, don’t be impaired when you go. Although this sounds like a no brainer, it happens so frequently that I now warn every client about this. And when I say don’t be impaired, do not have anything to drink in the 24 hours leading up to the evaluation. All to often someone drinks the night before and a probation officer smells it.

    The probation department will likely use the Adult Substance Use and Driving Survey, or ASUDS for short to score you on various factors, prior substance use, prior impaired driving, demographics, defensiveness, BAC in the present case, etc. By no means should you attempt to game the assessment. While I certainly cannot tell someone how to answer the questions or what to say, I advise my clients on a number of areas prior to the evaluation. First, be honest. Don’t go to the evaluation and say you had two beers when your BAC is a .200. Next, don’t minimize. Ultimately, you are at the evaluation because you have been charged with, and likely are receiving a sentence for a very serious crime. So its important to reflect on that and let the evaluator know that you are well aware of how serious this is and let them know how you’re taking it seriously. Next, and this needs to be accomplished long before the evaluation, but immediately upon being charged, you must stop drinking. Someone who is able to abstain from alcohol from the date they were charged until the evaluation is completed is certainly less of a risk than someone who has continued to drink, even in light of being charged with an alcohol related offense. The latter will almost certainly be required to complete more treatment than the former. Finally, get a head start. Once I know that a client is going to be pleading guilty and receive classes/treatment as part of their sentence, I advise them to begin immediately. This way, you’re not just going to the evaluation and telling them that you take this seriously, but you’ve demonstrated that you are in fact taking it seriously.

    Remember, by the time you get to the alcohol evaluation, you’ve already pled guilty in most cases, therefore the time to deny the accusations has passed. If you aren’t prepared to go to the evaluation and take your lumps so to speak, you should not have pled guilty in the first place. This is just a brief summary of what I routinely advise clients. Remember, if you are charged with a DUI in Colorado, its important to hire competent legal counsel. All too often people try to go it alone, which only makes things worse.

  • DUI Classes in Colorado

    Many people charged with a DUI are surprised to learn that as part of their sentence in the criminal side of the case, they have to undergo mandatory classes. Moreover, depending on an individual’s situation, they may be forced to undergo the same classes in order to receive or maintain their drivers license. Under Colorado law, an individual convicted of DUI faces five days to one year in the county jail, even for a first offense. However, Colorado law also always the mandatory five days jail to be waived if the defendant agrees to complete a drug/alcohol treatment program. In an effort to avoid a one-size fits all approach, most individuals must complete an alcohol evaluation and follow the recommendations that the evaluator sets forth. For the most part, the Judge will simply adopt the recommendations and make that part of your sentence. Throughout the State, and especially in Colorado Springs, the recommendations of the evaluator will be based on the reported BAC, the defendant’s attitude/honesty at the evaluation, and the number of prior alcohol related offenses that the defendant has on their criminal history. The alcohol evaluation is normally completed through the probation department.

    Generally speaking, an individual charged with a first offense DUI in Colorado will be forced to undergo level II alcohol education, and between 42 and 52 hours of therapy, depending on the factors I mentioned above. This is called track A and track B, respectively, on a second offense, level II and 68 hours of therapy (track C), and on a third offense, its generally level II and 86 hours of therapy (track D). Keep in mind that there is no hard and fast rule regarding the assignment of the various tracks, but generally speaking, the above holds true more often than not. As far as level II education is concerned, level II is simply 12 two-hour classes, geared toward educating the defendant, rather than correcting the behavior.

    The cost of classes varies widely depending on the treatment provider; however, any treatment provider used must be approved through the state. Keep in mind that the classes are only one small part of a DUI conviction, so it’s important to seek competent legal representation if charged with a DUI in Colorado.

     

  • Should I Take a Blood Test or a Breath Test if I’m Stopped for a DUI?

    Colorado DUI laws are complicated and when you’re being pulled over is no time to try and figure them out. One of the questions we get asked most often is, “what test should I take, or should I even take a test?” First, remember, one of the most important things you can do when being investigated for any crime is make sure you give the State as little evidence as possible. For example, the first thing an officer is looking for is an odor of alcohol. Don’t roll your window down all the way, rather, crack the window enough to hear the officer and for them to hear you and for you to provide the requested documents. Use mints or gum, and for god sake, never smoke marijuana in your car. Next, if you are asked to do a voluntary field sobriety test, remember, the test is voluntary. You have no obligation to complete them, and regardless of your level of sobriety, you are going to fail. According to one study from Clemson University, officers trained in DUI detection failed to correctly identify those subjects in the study were to drunk to drive and who was sober 47% of the time.[1] Basically, flipping a coin is as accurate as the state’s tests. In short, they are designed for you to fail.

    Now, turning to the issue of the chemical test. If an officer has probable cause to believe you are to impaired to drive, they will request that you complete a chemical test of your blood or breath. Remember, the standard for an officer to ask you to take a chemical test is that they have probable cause to believe you are to impaired to safely operate a vehicle, not that they think you have been drinking. We represent a large number of clients who simply had a drink or two at dinner and are on their way home, when they’re stopped for some minor violation. They complete a blood test and are arrested for DUI, and now they must defend themselves against very serious charges. If you only had a drink or two and are certain you aren’t impaired, it may be wise to explain it to the officer, but only if you can prove it. For instance, if you just left the restaurant and have the receipt in your pocket, explain that yes, you did have a drink with dinner, but that was all and show him the receipt. At the very least the officer must include in the report that you showed that only had one drink with dinner. If you can’t provide any proof, than this shouldn’t be attempted, as now there is an admission that you were drinking.

    In Colorado, the rules governing an officer requesting a chemical test are governed by C.R.S. 42-4-1301.1, or what’s referred to as Colorado’s Express Consent statute. This law states that by virtue of the fact that you have obtained a Colorado driver license, or are operating a vehicle on Colorado’s roadways, you have consented to taking a chemical test in the event an officer believes you are too impaired to safely drive. Failure to comply with this request can result in a 1-year revocation of your privilege to drive.

    So what test should you complete? I recommend that my client’s complete a blood test in nearly every situation. I’ll explain. Certainly, refusing to complete a test will derive the state of evidence that is very helpful in convicting you, namely your blood alcohol level (BAC). You will still be prosecuted and can be convicted. Remember, the state doesn’t have to prove your blood alcohol content for you to be found guilty of DUI. Rather, they have to prove that you are substantially incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely because of the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. There’s no number. Moreover, the consequences of a refusal at DMV are severe. Generally, if the revocation is upheld, you will loose your privileges to drive for 1 year, and there is no early reinstatement. With a breath test, we have a much more difficult time disputing the accuracy of the test and the accuracy of the machine. You are not given a second sample to retest at your own laboratory, and we’re forced to rely on the validity of the state’s test. There are also inherent flaws with the principles behind the breath test. The old adage “the harder you blow, the higher you go” has some truth to it. A blood test is superior for several reasons. First, two vials of blood are collected, one for the state, and one for you. This is important, because unlike a breath test, we can and do re-test your blood at our own independent laboratory. It is not uncommon for the two samples to have very different results. Next, you are making the case more difficult for the state to prosecute. Rather than calling only the two police officers involved in a case with a breath test, the state needs to get the person who tested your blood in Denver to attend the trial. They also attempt to get the head of laboratory to testify and explain the complicated scientific processes that make up gas chromatograph testing. There are very few people working as blood testers and only one head of the lab. Consequently, orchestrating trials with these individuals is difficult to say the least. Many cases have received very favorable outcomes due to their unavailability. Finally, there is strong evidence that the blood test is more accurate than the breath test. The process to test blood uses very complicated and expensive equipment, which is very accurate. The breath test uses a relatively inexpensive machine found in every police station in the state.  Obviously, a blood test is superior.

    So remember, while the best way to avoid a DUI is simply not to drink and drive, if you ever find yourself being pulled over, give the state as little evidence as you can, the voluntary roadside tests are voluntary and you will fail them, and finally, complete a blood test.

    [1] Nowacyk, R. H., Dr. and Cole, S., Dr., Separating Myth from Fact: A Review of Research on the Field Sobriety Tests (The Champion, August 1995).

    Steven Rodemer is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs at The Law Office of Steven Rodemer, LLC. Steve has been named for three years as on of the “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers, a “Top 100” DUI Attorney by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense and was named as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers in 2014.

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