Five Great Defenses to DUI in Colorado (I did it, But…)

Print Friendly

DUI in Colorado

What do you do when you drove drunk but had a good reason for doing so? Maybe there was a snow storm coming and you had to get out of the cold or a person wanted to fight you and you had to get away.

In Colorado, there are times when you can tell a judge, I did it, BUT you need to find me Not Guilty. In these types of situations, judges will listen to your reasons but you better make sure you have a reason that a judge will listen to.

So how do you know if you have a good reason or not? Here is a list of the defenses to DUI that judges like in Colorado:

  • Duress
    Duress is when you tell a judge, I had to get out of a situation because something bad was about to happen to me. When using this defense, you need to show that there was no other alternative to driving drunk (such as calling a cab or running), and that you avoided a greater harm by driving, and you drove drunk in good faith to avoid the harm, and you didn’t create the situation that you were running from.
  • Entrapment
    Entrapment is when the police made you do something that you otherwise would not have done. In DWI, this could occur if a police officer forces you to drive after you are drinking. Entrapment is only a defense when you wouldn’t have done the activity if the officer hadn’t forced you to. For example, if you were planning on drinking then driving, you will not be able to use entrapment as a defense because you would have driven anyway. But if you were planning on drinking and then taking a cab home but the officer forced you to drive, you would have a great entrapment defense.
  • Insanity
    Insanity in Colorado is when “A person who is so diseased or defective in mind at the time of the commission of the act as to be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to that act.” Such a person will not be held responsible for the act. Unlike other States, you can not drink yourself into a state of “Insanity.” You are either insane or you are not. If you attempt to drink yourself into a state of insanity, you will be held to have voluntarily choosen to be in that state and will be found guilty. This defense is really designed for people who can not distinguish right from wrong, and, as a result, it rarely applies in criminal cases. But if it applies to you, you will have a great defense.
  • Involuntary intoxication
    In Colorado, “a person is not criminally responsible for his conduct if, by reason of intoxication that is not self-induced at the time he acts, he lacks capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.” This defense is a factual one, which means that the Prosecutor will show evidence tending to show that you knew or should have known that you were drinking alcohol while you will have to show evidence tending to show that you did not know and ought not to have known that you were drinking alcohol. The hardest part about this defense is that you will lose if the Prosecutor shows that you ought to have known that you were drinking alcohol. As a result, this defense is best used by experienced defense attorneys who knows how to counter every bit of evidence that the Prosecutor is going to use to show your mental state. Keep in mind that this defense also opens the door to the Prosecutor talking about every possible time you may have gotten drunk because this evidence will tend to establish that you know what alcohol tastes like and how it affects you.
  • Necessity
    Necessity is a defense where you attempt to show to the judge that you were trying to avoid the commission of an even greater crime involving property damage or bodily harm. For example, you may argue necessity if you drove your car after drinking but only did so to avoid a shooting. This defense is similar to duress and similar limitations apply (i.e. necessity only applies while there is a possibility of the greater crime occurring). To argue this defense, it is typically necessary to show that you had no reasonable alternative, AND you stopped driving as soon as it was safe, AND you did not create the danger that you were trying to get away from. So if you started a fight, then drove drunk, you will not be able to use the defense, but if a person is trying to fight you, and you drive drunk, you can use the defense.

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

Written by

Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca