DUI, DWAI, DUID, UDD are all scary terms and bring huge possible penalties. For many people, DUI is their first and only contact with the criminal justice system. Many people that are not career criminals make a mistake with alcohol and get arrested. Plenty of people didn’t even have that much to drink but are incorrectly accused by the officer and charged based only on an opinion that they are under the influence. First, what are these crimes? In Colorado:
DUI – Driving Under the Influence. This is the term people usually think of when they say Drunk Driving. However, DUI means a lot more than driving while drunk. You can be intoxicated by the State’s definition and no reasonable person would consider you drunk. Moreover, you don’t even have to actually be driving the vehicle as people have been convicted in Colorado for DUI in a parked vehicle. DUI per se means that you have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .08 or higher. However, even with a BAC, you can be charged with DUI if, in the Officer’s opinion, you are substantially incapable at the time of driving.
DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired. This charge is pretty unique from the rest of the United States. Even though you’ve always been taught that the legal limit for alcohol is .08, that’s not really true in Colorado. In Colorado, having a BAC of .05 to .08 will quickly get you charged with DWAI. In fact, the DWAI standard is so low that any impairment whatsoever will bring about this charge. Think about if you’re super tired and have one beer. Could you be impaired to the slightest degree? If the police officer thinks so, you can be arrested for DWAI. While the penalties may not be as harsh as DUI, there are still very serious consequences to this crime. Those consequences are much more serious than people realize.
DUID – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. This charge is the fastest growing of all DUID charges. When people think of this charge, they think of driving under the influence of illegal drugs. However, driving under the influence of Marijuana is included even though there is almost no practical way to tell when someone ingested Marijuana or how much. The State has tried to establish a Marijuana cutoff level for a blood that has almost nothing to do with actual science and can result in a charge for you when you smoked Marijuana a long time before driving and were definitely not under its’ influence when driving. Legal prescription drugs can also result in DUID charges. Even though your doctor legally prescribed you the medication and you took the correct dose, you can be considered too intoxicated to drive. I’ve seen too many cases to count where a respectable citizen took the appropriate amount of their prescribed medication and ended up arrested for DUID.
UDD – Underage Drinking and Driving. In Colorado, the charge associated with a DUI for those under the age of 21 is called an Underage Drinking and Driving Offense (UDD) and applies to those who have BAC level at .02 but less than .05. Persons under the age of 21 who have a BAC level of .05 and higher receive the same administrative and criminal penalties as an adult driver.
There are ways to fight every kind of DUI charges, ways that most lay people are not even aware of. Many people think, oh, I blew over .08, I’m definitely guilty and might as well just plead so. Not so fast! DUI cases are extremely complicated and can require a great deal more technical knowledge than all but the worst felony cases. The stop of your car has to be for an appropriate reason. The officer must have probable cause to arrest you for DUI. The officer must appropriately advise you of your choices concerning taking a test or not (this is not your Miranda warnings – just because the officer did not read you Miranda does not mean your case is being dismissed). The test must be performed in an appropriate place and manner. Finally, the samples must be handled and tested properly. There is a lot that can go wrong in this process and it takes an experienced DUI attorney to obtain all of the evidence and evaluate it to see what could have gone wrong!
Most people don’t realize that regardless of the success of their criminal case, there is a second independent process running at the DMV. This is a completely different process than the criminal case and must be handled as well. Oftentimes, the impact of losing one’s license is greater than any sentence a criminal court could impose. Many times people are more concerned with getting their license back than they are with the possible criminal penalties. You need a criminal lawyer for this part of the process too! You need one quick! YOU ONLY HAVE 7 DAYS TO REQUEST A HEARING TO KEEP YOUR LICENSE FROM TIME OF ARREST. You need to get an attorney fast!
Once you are arrested, there begins a long, drawn out process to determine possible criminal implications. There will be conferences, status checks, motions hearings and perhaps a trial. You are not required to plead guilty at any point and have a legal right to a trial by a jury of your peers if you so desire. An experienced DUI attorney can fight for you during these hearings and conferences, can evaluate your case honestly, and can advise you whether a plea offer is a good offer or not for your individual circumstances. A good DUI attorney will explore every possible option for getting your case dismissed or reduced before even discussing a plea with you. Additionally, a good DUI attorney can explain the risks and rewards of trial and will always be willing to fight for you at trial if you chose to do so. Ultimately it’s your choice whether to go to trial or accept a plea, but a truly good DUI attorney will explain all of the implications of both choices and fight for you no matter what you pick.
The below tables summarize punishments from a criminal DUI or related cases.
You need a good DUI attorney on your side. Contact Triple L Law today!