What happens after I am charged with a DUI in Colorado?
Those who are pulled over and accused of driving under the influence (DUI) likely have a lot of questions. What happens next, what options are available and will it just go away are some common thoughts when in this situation. This piece will dive into these questions and discuss how the process generally works in Colorado.
What exactly is a DUI charge?
In order to build their case, the state will need to establish that you were operating a vehicle while were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If successful this can result in various criminal charges — a DUI is not the only option. In Colorado, officials can also pursue driving while ability impaired (DWAI) or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) charges.
When pulled over, the officer may ask you to conduct a series of tests like walking along a straight line or balancing on one foot. These are part of the field sobriety test. The officer will gather information about your performance on each portion of the test to use in the state’s case. The officer may also request a breathalyzer or blood test. Based on the information gathered during this stop, the officer will need to decide whether to arrest you and move forward with charges or let you go.
What is the basic timeline for the process after a DUI?
Your case will move forward if the officer decides there is enough evidence to support criminal charges. First, it is important to know that each judicial district in the state will handle the process a little differently. However, a DUI generally triggers two different processes in every jurisdiction in Colorado: a criminal charge through the court system and an administrative process through the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with penalties imposed by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Colorado state law generally requires the arresting officer provide anyone who received a breath test or refused testing an Express Consent Affidavit and Notice of Revocation. Or, if you took a blood test, the state would send the Notice of Revocation through the mail. At this point it is important to carefully review the information within these forms as you only have days to request a hearing.
A hearing is helpful for two reasons. First, it is an opportunity to fight back against the revocation of your license. Second, it can provide information on what evidence the state has gathered to build their criminal case against you. This administrative process can result in various penalties including suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and points against the driver’s license.
The criminal charge portion of the process will include a court hearing. At the hearing, the state will inform you of the details of the charges and the potential penalties if convicted. You can then plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will move forward with sentencing. If you plead not guilty, you will move forward with a trial.
What is the biggest mistake made by people who are charged with a DUI?
Thinking it will go away. As you can see in the information provided above, the process moves pretty quickly. Failing to address the issue and hoping it will just resolve can get you into serious trouble. An attorney can review the case and develop a defense tailored to your situation, better ensuring your legal rights are protected throughout the process.