DUI and DWAI in Colorado
What is Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?
In Colorado, it is a misdemeanor to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
To be convicted of DUI, the prosecution will need to prove that you were “substantially incapable…to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”
To be convicted of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), the State will need to prove that you were impaired to the slightest degree so that you are less able than an ordinary person to safely operate a motor vehicle.
What you will face in court
DWI is a unique crime primarily because a person’s guilt or innocence is based almost entirely on the police officer’s opinions. It is the police officer’s opinion of how you were driving that will justify pulling you over. It is the police officer’s opinion of how you were acting when you talked to him on whether he thought you were intoxicated. It is the officer’s opinion of how you do on field sobriety tests that will determine whether you are arrested.
Then comes the breath test where you will be placed in front of a machine and told to blow. If you decide that you do not want to take the test, your refusal will be taken to show “consciousness of guilt”. If you do not have the lung capacity to blow into the machine, it will be taken as “consciousness of guilt”. If the machine simply does not work and is malfunctioning, it will be taken as “consciousness of guilt.”
In DUI cases, the law is stacked against you. Every test is designed for you to fail. Even sober people have been known to fail these tests.
So what do you do?
You need an attorney who understands the nuances of these tests. It is only through the experiences of cross-examining officers that an attorney learns how to expose the weaknesses and sometimes outright lies in the officer’s stories. It takes experience to know how to use driving videos to your advantage and convince jurors that your driving that the officer described as reckless is actually what everyone does on the road every day and shouldn’t have even resulted in a traffic ticket.
The breath test seems unbeatable but it is only a machine and like all machines, it does not always work. It takes experience working with intoxilyzer logs to know when there is a problem. It takes even more experience to explain to a jury, who has probably never seen an intoxilyzer log, why the machine was malfunctioning.
Only by knowing the nuances of DWI law can an attorney show the jury the true facts of your case and how those facts do not correspond with the law.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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