You Have Two Battles To Fight After Arrest For DUI
After arrest for DUI in Colorado, you’ll undoubtedly have questions about what to do next and what to expect going forward. The answer to what you should do next is easy: immediately call an experienced Colorado Springs DUI attorney. You will need their expertise for what follows: a battle on two fronts. One fight involves your ability to continue driving, while the other will determine the nature and extent of any punishment you may face, including whether you wind up spending time behind bars.
Immediately After Arrest For DUI
Imagine this scenario: The flashing lights of Colorado Springs police appear behind you. When you pull over, the officer administers a field sobriety test, which you fail. The officer places you in the back of a squad car under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. The arresting officer then takes you to a hospital or police station and asks you to take a breath, blood, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). You can refuse the test, but you will face penalties for doing so, including the possibility of losing your license for up to a year.
If you either refuse the BAC test or register above the legal limit, you face drunk driving charges. And this is when you will find yourself fighting a license suspension before the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) while also fighting criminal charges before an El Paso County judge.
Fighting License Suspension Before The DMV
After arrest for DUI, your Colorado driver’s license will be automatically suspended. The length of your suspension depends on whether this is your first DUI charge or a second or subsequent offense:
- First drunk driving offense: Nine-month license suspension
- Second drunk driving offense: One-year license suspension
- Third or more drunk driving offense: Two-year license suspension
As noted, you will also lose your driving privileges if you refuse a chemical test after Colorado Springs police pull you over for suspicion of drunk driving.
If you either submit to a breath test or refuse a chemical test, the arresting officer will likely give you a Notice of Express Consent Affidavit and a Notice of Revocation advising that you have seven days after your arrest to request a license reinstatement hearing. If you fail to make such a request, the DMV will revoke your license on the eighth day.
If you provide a blood sample that shows your BAC higher than the legal limit, the officer will send the Notice of Express Consent Affidavit to the DMV. The DMV will then send a letter advising you of the test results and informing you that you have ten days from the letter’s date to request a hearing. If you don’t make that request, the DMV will revoke your driver’s license on the 11th day.
The DMV must hold the hearing to reinstate your driver’s license within 60 days of your written request for the hearing. You can drive legally until your hearing, at which an administrative hearing officer will decide whether to lift your suspension.
This license reinstatement hearing is critical in the fight for your fredeom. Having an experienced attorney represent you can make all the difference between license suspension after a DUI that could last for years or months and avoiding suspension entirely. At the hearing, your lawyer will present evidence and testimony to support the argument that your license should not be suspended. If successful, you will avoid suspension and still be able to drive legally. If not, the DMV will suspend your license for the abovementioned periods.
Fighting The Charges In Your Criminal Case
In addition to fighting to keep you on the road, your defense attorney will also be working hard on your criminal case. How will your criminal case proceed?
After arrest for DUI, Colorado Springs police will provide you with a notice to appear in El Paso County court for your arraignment. At your arraignment, the judge will advise you of the criminal charges you face and the possible penalties upon conviction. Either at or before the arraignment, the prosecutor may offer you and your attorney a proposed deal (or plea bargain) in which you agree to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter punishment. If you accept the offer and plead guilty, the judge will impose the agreed-upon sentence and, other than ensuring your compliance with the terms of your sentence, your criminal case will be over.
If you and your attorney decide to reject a deal or fight the charges, you will plead “not guilty.” The case will then proceed to the pre-trial phase. At that point, your attorney will develop the strategy, pursue the evidence, and identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that could potentially result in a dismissal of the charges before trial or an acquittal at trial.
Why Your First Move After Arrest For DUI Should Be Hiring An Attorney
Because so much is at stake after an arrest for DUI in Colorado, you need to take immediate action to hire an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer. Not doing so puts both your driving privileges and your freedom at risk.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can win a DUI case on your own or thinking that you do not need legal representation at a DMV hearing.