How To Survive A DUI

Over 1.4 million people are arrested each year for a first-offense DUI. Getting a DUI is expensive. The national average cost of a DUI is around $10,000, but it can be much higher or lower depending on where you live and that is just for the fee. That does not include the posting of bail and paying legal fees. It does not account for maintaining insurance or taking time off from your job to fulfill your sentence.

The best way to handle a DUI is to take every precaution you can to not drink before you drive, but of course they still happen. Here are some important things to keep in mind when facing a DUI. The best thing to do first is to hire a qualified attorney with experience in handling DUI cases who can make the process a little less confusing and explain all of the different laws and consequences for a driver’s particular case.

There are Different Kinds of DUI’s

There are two different charges for DUI’s. First is for “driving under the influence,” which is when someone is obviously impaired by either drugs, alcohol, or both. This is not based on a drug-alcohol level. If a driver was driving all over the road and appeared to be under the influence, he or she would be arrested, charged, and convicted for an “A” classification of a DUI.

The second classification “B,” deals with blood-alcohol level. The amount of alcohol allowed to be in one’s blood is determined by the each state, for example in Colorado someone may be arrested for a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. This is not determined by how well a person is driving, but rather upon occasional random testing, or if a person is pulled over for a minor offense such as a bad taillight, and is then determined to have high blood-alcohol content.

Both classifications have the same result. They will have the same punishment, prior ability, and will be recorded as a DUI on the person’s record. People can be charged with both “A” and “B” classifications and can possibly be convicted of both, but even in this case, count as only one conviction with one punishment. It is common to see both charges used primarily for plea bargaining purposes.

There are Different Levels of Charges for Drinking and Driving

DUI is not the only charge possible when a person is suspected of drinking and driving. In Colorado there is a second lesser offense called Driving While Ability Impaired or DWAI. The difference in the definition is between a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle being affected to a substantial degree for DUI as opposed to that ability being affected “to the slightest degree” for the charge of driving while ability impaired.

The presumption in Colorado for a charge of DWAI is an alcohol level between 0.05% and 0.08%. While an initial charge of DWAI often does not have the immediate license suspension implications, a conviction on this charge carries an 8 point assessment against your driving record and further has long term implications of a drinking and driving conviction much the same as a DUI.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs: DUID

Drivers in Colorado may also be charged with driving under the influence of drugs. Now that recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado there has been an increase in the number of driving under the influence of marijuana cases. The state now uses a permissive inference of DUID-Marijuana for a test showing 5 nanograms of active THC in the blood of the driver.

The science supporting this level is suspect at best. Last year Colorado closed the state laboratory to drug testing because an internal investigation revealed a prosecution bias engaged in by a key supervisor. This supervisor provided the testimony to the legislature to enact the current 5 nanogram level being used in the courts. This legislative testimony was supported by a private lab operator who coincidently now has the contract for drug testing for the state.

This economic incentive for testing and expert conclusions has thus far been overlooked by the government powers assigned to provide justice in the state. A conviction under this statute will impose most of the same long term implications for a person as being convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.

In addition to marijuana, a driver may be charged with DUID for driving under the influence of any medication including prescription and non-prescription medication. Because of the lack of standards for these other drugs and the absence of the evidentiary crutch of a state approved presumption, prosecutors are reluctant to proceed on such cases.

License Implications and the DMV Hearing

If a driver is arrested and proven to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or above, or if the officer has good reason to believe that the driver’s levels will be above .08%, then the officer will take away the driver’s license and issue a temporary license at the time of the arrest. That license allows for seven days of driving following a DUI arrest.

The driver must request a DMV hearing within the first seven days after the arrest. A request for a hearing will extend the driving privileges for up to 60 days although that time is terminated upon the date of the hearing which is almost always held with in the 60 day period.  If a hearing is not suspended and action is not taken within seven days then the temporary license turns into a four-month automatic suspension of all driving privileges.

A DMV hearing provides more time to be given on the temporary license while legal action is being taken. If the seven-day window to request a hearing is passed however, the DMV shows no mercy. Drivers must not miss the seven-day window to request a DMV hearing.

Find an Attorney

The best thing a driver can do as soon as he or she is arrested for a DUI is to get an attorney. A good attorney will provide the necessary knowledge and experience to the driver’s case and ensure that everything runs smoothly. From a DMV hearing to a final day in court, an attorney can guide a driver safely through a DUI.

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Greg Greer of Greer Law Firm has been dedicated to providing criminal defense for people accused of crimes for over 30 years.