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How the Police Spot Drunk Drivers 

07 February, 2023

Colorado police officers receive special training to know what to look for when identifying intoxicated drivers. Part of this training includes learning what behaviors to watch for that indicate intoxication, like speeding, swerving, or braking erratically.

If an officer suspects a driver is intoxicated, they have the legal right to pull them over for additional investigation.

Once a driver has been pulled over, the officer knows what other signs to look for that indicate potential intoxication. Some of the signs include glassy or bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol when they speak, and slurred speech. Sometimes, officers will request a driver to perform a field sobriety test. These tests often involve walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If the driver cannot pass these tests, the officer has enough evidence to arrest them for driving under the influence.

Other signs may be mistaken for intoxication when this is not the case. For example, the individual may be anxious, not feeling well, dealing with allergies, or tired.

Field Sobriety Tests

Police use different field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is truly impaired. The most commonly used test is the HGN – horizontal gaze nystagmus test. With this test, the police will watch the driver’s eyes while they follow a moving object. During the test, the officer will watch the person’s eyes for specific signs of intoxication. Signs include:

  • Maximum deviation
  • Distinct nystagmus (motion of the eyes)
  • Lack of smooth pursuit

Authorities can use other field sobriety tests, too. These include the one-leg standing test and the walk-and-turn test.

With the walk-and-turn test, the driver is asked to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, in a straight line and turn around, then take nine more steps back. The test is used to determine if the person can maintain their balance and if they can comprehend and follow instructions.

The next is the one-leg stand test. With this, the officer will ask the driver to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.

It is worth noting that field sobriety tests are highly contested because many believe they are not accurate ways to determine if someone is intoxicated. While this is true, they are still used as a common way to determine if a driver is impaired.

Besides field sobriety tests, authorities may also require a suspect to take a preliminary breath test. The test will be done on the side of the road. If it shows a positive reading, then the officer has enough evidence to arrest someone for DUI (driving under the influence). While this is true, the roadside test results cannot be used as evidence in court.

Express Consent

If officers believe they have enough evidence to arrest someone for DUI after conducting the field sobriety tests described above, they can do so. According to Colorado statutes, drivers have given their consent to a breath or blood test if they are suspected of driving while intoxicated.

In some circumstances, the officer can let a driver choose if they would prefer a blood or breath test. The law also states that the test must be done within two hours of the person being arrested.

As someone who is suspected of drunk driving, you have the right to refuse the test. However, it is worth noting that doing so will come with consequences. In some situations, though, this is the best way to handle this situation.

DUI Laws in Colorado

While Colorado has some of the most lax laws regarding drugs like marijuana, it has some of the strictest

DUI laws in the country. If you are caught driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, you will face DUI charges. Also, you will face DUI charges if you are found driving while under the influence of drugs.

There is also a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who is caught drinking underage. If someone under age 21 is caught driving with a 0.02% BAC (or higher) will face DUI charges.

Colorado DUI convictions come with several penalties, including the use of an ignition interlock device, alcohol education classes, and license suspension. Some charges also carry jail time.

Hire an Experienced Colorado DUI Attorney to Help

If you are facing DUI charges, you should hire an attorney to help you better understand the legal process and to protect your rights. DUI convictions carry significant penalties, and the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani can help protect your rights and freedoms.

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Important DUI Laws in Denver

Denver DWAI: Fast Facts

Will a DUI Conviction Impact Your Ability to Get a Job?

30 January, 2023

If you are convicted of DUI in Colorado, it will likely impact your life in many ways. One way is by making it more challenging to get a job.

Some employers will not hire someone who has a DUI conviction on their record. Even if they do hire you, you must disclose your conviction to your employer, which may limit your job options and opportunities. It can also cause you to be passed over for a position you would easily qualify for without this conviction.

In some situations, a DUI conviction can cause you to lose your current job. For example, if you have a job where you drive, a DUI can make you ineligible to keep working in that position.

If you have been convicted of a DUI in Colorado, it is important to understand the implications of the conviction better and to be honest about the situation with current and potential employers.

If you are facing DUI charges, contact the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani. We can help defend your case and protect your employment options.

Will an Employer Want to Know if You Have a DUI?

The answer to this question is – it depends. Some employers will want this information, but it often depends on what position you are applying for. For example, disclosing the information is important if the job requires a clean driving record. However, there are other positions where the conviction may not directly impact your performance or ability to work.

Regardless of if the position requires driving, if an employer asks if you have prior convictions, disclosing a DUI is necessary.

Do You Have to Disclose Your Driving Record to Employers?

No law in Colorado requires an employee to disclose their driving record to their employer. While this is true, some employers may request this information as a condition of their employment.

If you do not know if your employer requires this information, you should ask someone in the human resources department.

What Is the Difference between Convictions and Accusations?

There is a significant difference in accusations and convictions.

Convictions occur if someone is found guilty of a crime in court. An accusation occurs if someone has been accused of a crime but not proven guilty (yet).

Sometimes, the terms are confused and used interchangeably. However, these are different.

A conviction is based on testimony and evidence presented in court. A judge or jury will determine if someone is guilty or not. On the other hand, accusations are based on hearsay or suspicion and have not been proven in court. In some situations, accusations are made without evidence to back them up.

Can You Keep DUIs Off Your Record

In the state of Colorado, a DUI conviction is not always automatically eligible for expungement. However, there are some circumstances when DUI convictions can be expunged. One way is if the DUI occurred over seven years ago, and the person has not been convicted of other crimes in that period. In this case, expungement may be possible.

Also, if someone convicted of DUI completes a treatment program successfully and demonstrates good behavior, the court is more likely to issue an expungement.

Hire a DUI Attorney to Help with Your Case

If you are facing DUI charges, it is smart to hire an attorney to help with your situation. DUIs are serious offenses, and you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you navigate through the legal system.

At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, you will have an attorney who can help you understand the charges against you and help you develop a strong defense strategy. Our team will negotiate with the prosecution for you and provide representation in court. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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DUI Penalties for Drivers Under Age 21

Steps to Take if You Are Arrested for a DUI in Colorado

Boating and Drinking in Colorado: What Are the Laws?

06 December, 2022

Exploring the more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs in Colorado is a great way to spend an afternoon, day, or weekend. Being on the water is relaxing and gives you time to catch up with family and friends.

It is not unusual to enjoy a few drinks while on the water; however, Colorado has specific laws related to the consumption of alcohol while on a boat. Knowing what the laws are will help you avoid legal trouble.

You may think drinking while on a boat is “no big deal.” After all, if a collision occurs, the possibility of serious injuries is less than in a car accident. While this is true, it does not mean there are no risks. Some boat accidents can cause serious injuries and may even lead to someone drowning after the impact.

You may face criminal charges if you are involved in a boat accident involving alcohol. If this happens, it is recommended that you contact our criminal law attorneys from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. We will investigate your charges and help build a solid defense for your situation.

Related Article: 5 Things You Should Know About DUI in Denver

Laws Regulating Alcohol Consumption While on a Boat in Colorado

It is not illegal to take alcohol on a boat. However, it is illegal to operate the boat under the influence of alcohol. In the state of Colorado, these offenses are taken seriously.

Suppose you are caught and arrested for BUI (boating under the influence). In that case, you can face severe consequences upon conviction, including up to a year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, mandatory community service, and the suspension of your boating privileges.

Before 2008, the legal limit of alcohol you could have to operate a boat was 0.10%. However, this was changed to 0.08% in 2008, making it the same as the range for a DUI (driving under the influence) charge.

Important Rules Related to Boating and Drinking in Colorado

BUI charges are not exclusive to boating. They also apply to Jet Skis, kayaks, canoes, and more. The law states that any watercraft operated by oar, paddle, wind, or motor is considered a boat.

According to today’s laws, all vessels or watercraft being physically operated or controlled by someone under the influence of alcohol can result in BUI charges.

For example, if you operate a non-motorized canoe with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.12% or higher, you will likely be charged with BUI.

BUI and DUI charges are similar but not identical. In Colorado, boats are not considered “motor vehicles.” This is not the case in many other states.

This means that BUI charges are not handled through the DMV and are not influenced by any DUI charges. Also, the points you have on your driver’s license are not impacted by BUI charges.

Related Article: What Are Possible Defenses to DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado?

When Can the Authorities Stop Your Boat?

With DUIs,authorities must have probable cause to pull you over when driving. While this is true for  boaters, the standards for probable cause are much lower.

Sometimes, a boat is stopped to check the safety equipment on board. If evidence of alcohol or drugs is found during the stop, the authorities have the right to order the operator to submit to a BAC test.

Anyone operating a boat is piloting it. Also, if a boat owner allows someone intoxicated to operate their boat, the owner and operator may face BUI charges. Prior BUI convictions and refusing the BAC test can impact the outcome of a BUI hearing.

Potential Penalties for a Colorado BUI Conviction

The penalties can be severe if you are convicted of BUI in Colorado.

First Offense

For a first BUI conviction, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prohibited from operating a boat for a minimum of three months
  • Jail time of at least five days with a maximum of one year
  • Fines of $200 to $1,000
  • Up to 96 hours of mandatory community service

In some situations, first-time offenders can avoid jail time if they agree to complete a treatment program.

Second Offense

The following penalties apply to your second BUI if you receive it within five years of the first offense:

  • 60 days to one year in jail
  • 60 to 120 hours of mandatory community service
  • Prohibited from operating a boat for one year
  • Fines of $500 to $5,000
  • Up to two years of probation
  • Prohibited from drinking alcohol for up to a year (usually a stipulation of your probation)

If the court orders that you abstain from drinking and using drugs, it also has the authority to monitor the use of these items by any means necessary.

Related Article: Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

The Potential Impact of Alcohol While Boating

It is important to understand the risks of boating and drinking. While it is illegal to do this, the dangers put you and others at risk while on the water.

Alcohol can impact your judgment, coordination, balance, and vision. These impairments increase the possibility of accidents for you, your passengers, and people in the water or on other boats.

According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, in boating deaths that involved alcohol use, more than half of the victims had capsized their vessels or fallen overboard.

Many people don’t realize that alcohol use on the water can be more dangerous than on land. Things like the sun, wind, engine noise, motion, and vibration all accelerate the rate that you become intoxicated. These sources of stress can also increase fatigue, which results in a faster decline in your reaction time, judgment, and coordination.

You also must consider experience. Most boat operators don’t have as much experience operating a boat as they do driving a car. In fact, most boaters only have about 110 hours on the water each year. This lack of experience and confidence also increases the possibility of accidents, especially when combined with alcohol use.

The fact is that alcohol has several physical effects that can threaten your safety and well-being while on the water. These include the following:

  • Judgment and cognitive abilities deteriorate, making it harder to make good choices, assess situations, or process information.
  • Alcohol creates a sensation of physical warmth, which may keep you from getting out of cold water, causing hypothermia.
  • Physical performance is impaired, which can impact your balance, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Inner ear disturbances make distinguishing between up and down difficult if you fall in the water.
  • Vision issues like reduced depth perception, poor focus, reduced night vision, and problems telling between different colors occur with alcohol use.

All these issues increase the possibility of a boat accident significantly.

Related Article: What to Expect When Charged with Your Second DUI in Denver

Call a Criminal Law Attorney in Colorado to Help with Your BUI Case

Contact our criminal defense lawyers immediately if you are charged with BUI in Colorado. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we can work to build a strong defense for your case and provide you with the aggressive legal services you need.

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Important DUI Laws in Denver 

28 November, 2022

Being charged with a DUI can be a confusing and scary experience. If you’ve never had any trouble with the law before, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, DUIs are relatively common in Colorado. According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), more than 26,000 impaired driving cases were filed in Colorado in 2019.

Most people with a DUI can avoid jail time and get their charges reduced or dismissed entirely if they work with a qualified DUI attorney. But even if you have a good lawyer, it’s essential to understand the laws surrounding DUIs to make informed decisions about your case. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the most important DUI laws in Denver.

Related Article: What To Know About a DUI in Colorado

What Is DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. DUI is a criminal offense in most jurisdictions, and penalties can vary depending on the severity of the offense.

In many states, a first-time DUI offense is punishable by fines, community service, and mandatory alcohol education classes. More serious offenses can result in jail time, the loss of driving privileges, and even the seizure of a vehicle.

Driving under the influence is a severe offense in Colorado. If you are caught operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.

You can still be charged with DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, if your blood alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.08 percent and you are deemed impaired by law enforcement.

This is a lesser charge than a DUI, but it is still a serious offense. If you are convicted of a DWAI, you will face fines, community service, and a possible license suspension. A Denver DWAI lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and avoid serious penalties.

Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, have represented clients facing DUI and DWAI charges in Denver and throughout Colorado. We know the ins and outs of Colorado’s DUI laws and can help you build a strong defense.

Related Article: What Are Possible Defenses to DUI and DWAI Charges in Colorado?

Express Consent in Denver

In Colorado, we take our DUI laws pretty seriously. And rightfully so – drunk driving is a leading cause of road accidents, injuries, and fatalities. But what many people don’t realize is that, by getting a driver’s license, you give “expres s consent” to submit to a chemical test if you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of DUI.

In other words, if an officer has reason to believe you’ve been driving under the influence, you must submit to a breath, blood, – or face some stiff penalties.

These include the immediate revocation of your driver’s license and a suspension for up to 12 months. Next time you’re out on the town, plan and designate a sober driver. It could save you a lot of hassle (and money) in the long run.

If you have any questions about your own situation, consult a Denver DUI lawyer. For a free consultation, contact us at (303) 529-2825.

Related Article:  What Are Your Rights When Pulled Over?

Zero Tolerance Law in Denver

Colorado has a zero-tolerance law for those under the legal drinking age of 21. That means anyone under the legal drinking age pulled over with alcohol in their system between 0.02 and 0.08 percent can be charged with a DUI.

Penalties for this offense include:

  • Five days to 1 year in jail
  • $600 to $1,000 in fines
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service
  • 9-month license revocation

Denver DUI attorneys from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, can help if you or someone you know is under 21 and charged with a DUI. We understand the Colorado zero-tolerance law and can help you fight your charges.

Related Article:  DUI Penalties for Drivers Under Age 21

DUI Checkpoints in Denver

In recent years, Denver has implemented sobriety checkpoints to crack down on drunk and drugged driving. While these checkpoints have effectively reduced the number of DUI-related accidents, they have also been controversial.

Some argue that sobriety checkpoints violate constitutional rights, while others argue that they are essential for keeping the public safe.

A checkpoint is an exception to the probable cause rule. This means that police officers do not need probable cause to stop a motorist at a checkpoint. However, checkpoint stops must be conducted to minimize the intrusion on motorists.

While sobriety checkpoints are not without their detractors, remember they are an effective tool for reducing drunk and drugged driving.

Related Article: Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

A probable cause for a DUI stop in Denver exists when an officer reasonably believes that a driver is intoxicated. This can be based on the driver’s behavior, such as swerving or weaving, or the field sobriety test results. If an officer has probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated, they can make a DUI stop.

At a DUI stop, an officer will usually ask the driver to submit to a chemical test, such as a breath test. If the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, they can be charged with DUI.

As discussed above, it is against the law to refuse to submit to a chemical test if you have been arrested for DUI. If you are convicted of DUI, refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in additional penalties, such as a longer license suspension.

Related Article: Is It Smart to Accept a Plea Deal in Your Denver DUI Case?

Buy and Possess Laws in Denver

The legal drinking age in Colorado is 21, meaning anyone under that age cannot purchase or possess alcohol. However, there are also laws in Denver that prohibit anyone under 21 from having alcohol inside a car that is in operation.

Even if the driver isn’t drinking, it’s illegal if there’s alcohol in the car. These laws are designed to discourage underage drinking and keep our roads safe. If you’re caught violating them, you could face fines, jail time, and even the loss of your driver’s license.

Related Article: 9 Mistakes You Should Avoid After a Denver DUI

Lookback Periods in Denver

In Denver, the law is clear regarding DUIs and lookback periods. If you have been convicted of a DUI, the court can use that conviction to enhance your sentence.

This means that even if your previous DUI conviction was years ago, the court could still give you a harsher punishment.

The good news is that judges also have the discretion to be lenient if your prior DUI conviction is not recent. A Denver DUI lawyer can help you argue for a lenient sentence if you find yourself in this situation.

Related Article: Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Denver DUI?

Get in Touch with a Denver DUI Attorney

The DUI laws in Denver are designed to keep our roads safe. You could face serious penalties if caught driving under the influence. These include fines, jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license.

If you are facing DUI charges, contact a Denver DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Our Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, offer a free consultation to discuss your case. We can help you understand your legal options and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

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Do’s and Don’ts During a Denver Arrest 

07 November, 2022

Being arrested in Denver is a scary and traumatizing experience. In situations where the circumstances around your arrest are unclear, the stress associated with the situation can be difficult to handle, confusing, and embarrassing all at the same time. 

The police must follow a set process and certain procedures when you are arrested. The law establishes these. They must also inform you of your constitutional rights. 

After doing this, they will take you into custody. You are not “free” to go, and you cannot walk away from the arresting officer. 

Certain conditions must be present for you to be arrested, which include the following:

  • You have been caught committing a crime. 
  • The police have probable cause to arrest you, and the arresting officer has established this. 
  • The court has issued an arrest warrant for you. 

When you are arrested, reacting emotionally and angrily is not unusual. Unfortunately, these reactions can make an already bad situation worse. 

If you are arrested, you have rights. One right is to speak to an attorney. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, our legal team can provide you with the legal representation you need to ensure you get the proper representation for your situation. 

Along with contacting our attorneys immediately (or as soon as possible after being arrested), be sure to know what you should and should not do during the arrest process. This information will help you avoid more serious penalties. 

Do Not Use Force or Resist an Officer

This applies to any interaction you have with the police. You should always cooperate with the police. 

When you are arrested, your rights will be read to you and you will be taken to jail. When you reach the detention center, you will be searched, and your fingerprints and photo will be taken. The police will create a report that details why you were arrested and other important information. 

Never resist. Never use force against the police. Remain calm and cooperative. 

The law states that you can face additional charges if you resist arrest. If you use force against the police or attempt to flee from them and cause an injury to an officer, you may face charges of battery on an officer. 

Do Request an Attorney and Remain Silent Until You Have One Present

It is never a good idea to sign a Miranda waiver when the police request you to do this. It would help if you waited to speak to the police until your lawyer arrived. 

It is required that you provide the arresting officers with some information. This includes the following:

  • Legal name
  • Identification (if you have it)
  • Date of birth
  • Address

Beyond this basic information, you do not have to talk to the police or answer their questions. 

Make sure you request a criminal defense attorney in Denver to represent you. Don’t talk to the police officers until your requested attorney arrives. You should avoid speaking to other people who are being held in the detention center, as well. 

It’s important to remember that the police want you to talk. Everything you say can be used against you, so it is best to remain silent. 

If you waive your Miranda rights, you may accidentally say something that will incriminate you somehow, which can exacerbate the situation. It’s best to talk to your lawyer first, which will help you determine what you should and should not say. 

It would help if you didn’t try to make decisions about your arrest or the charges against you without your attorney present. Refuse to sign anything or be in a lineup until you talk to a lawyer. 

Don’t Avoid Asking for Help to Get Out of Jail

When you are arrested, you should be able to call your attorney, your family, and even a bail company. Remember, when you are in jail, conversations are recorded. You should let your family know about your arrest, but don’t give any details about the situation. 

Get in touch with our criminal defense team to represent you and ensure you take the right steps after arrest. 

Do Pay Attention to What Happens During the Arrest

Sometimes, the police go “off script.” If this happens, your rights may be violated. If you believe this is happening to you, there are a few things you can do. One of the most important things is to pay attention to what is happening. 

You must write down everything you can remember, including the authority’s patrol car numbers and officers’ badge numbers. You should also write down the agencies the officers were from and any other details you can remember. 

If you are injured during the arrest, get medical attention, or request it when you can. 

You should file a written report with the internal affairs division or a civilian complaint board. 

FAQs About Being Arrested in Denver

If you are being arrested or arrested in Denver, you may have more than a few questions. Some of the most asked questions are answered here. 

Are the police required to tell you why you are being arrested?

The simple answer to this is no. The police are not required to tell you why you are under arrest. 

Within 48 hours, if you have not been bailed or bonded out of jail, you have the right to be seen before a judge and told what the charges are or released. When a judge sees you, that is when the charges filed against you are read. 

While this is true, when you are arrested, the police will likely provide you with some explanation about why you are being arrested or taken into custody. It’s important to remember when talking to authorities they want to get as much information out of you as possible. You should remain silent. 

Can the police detain you indefinitely? 

The answer to this is probably one you don’t want to hear – it depends. Your arrest can be pending for as long as it takes the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. 

In the state of Colorado, the standard is around 20 minutes. If you want to challenge your arrest and detention, you can have your criminal defense lawyer argue that the authorities kept you longer than necessary based on the circumstances. If a judge agrees with this, then the criminal charges that resulted in you being detailed will probably be dropped completely. 

It’s important to remember that when you are detailed, it is voluntary. This is true unless you have verbally asked to leave. 

If the police detail you, you should ask them if you can leave. If the officer confirms that you are free to go, it is up to you to leave the encounter and scene. If you decide to stay, then the detention is considered legal. 

What does “resisting arrest” mean in Colorado? 

The term “resisting arrest” is self-explanatory. If the police have probable cause to arrest you and you resist them in any way, you may face misdemeanor resisting arrest charges. Some examples of resisting arrest include running from the police or giving the authorities a false ID. 

You should be aware that some officers may threaten you if you don’t comply with a search request or if you fail to answer their questions. Don’t fall for this. You have the right to refuse police searches and to refuse to answer their questions until your lawyer is present. 

After the police arrest you, do you have to answer their questions?

If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent. You also have the right to seek legal counsel. If you are arrested, do not rely on the police to let you know about your right to remain silent and get the services of an attorney. Instead, state that you want to remain silent and that you need a lawyer. 

If the police continue to question you, repeat your wishes. This is your “legal shield.” You don’t have to talk and should avoid doing so since you may say something that incriminates you. 

Don’t Wait to Speak to a Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

It is smart to contact a Denver criminal defense attorney immediately if you are arrested in Denver. Our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, is ready to provide you with the legal representation you want and need. 

Our Denver law firm has provided legal services for clients for decades, and we will aggressively fight for your rights. Contact us today if you are arrested and need a strong defense team. We are here to help with your situation. 

Remember, the penalties for a criminal conviction can be severe. If you don’t have quality legal defense services, you may not have the representation needed to overcome these charges. Let us help you with our experience and resources. We can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case and situation. 

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Colorado Drug Laws Update: End of 2022 Edition

31 October, 2022

During the summer months, the state of Colorado is full of fun things to do. From concerts and shopping to partying all hours of the day and night with friends, there’s no question that this is a fun place to live.

In many cases, these fun events result in the use of alcohol and other substances. Sometimes, both legal and illegal substances are present.

Regarding drug laws, Colorado is one of the most lenient states in the country. After all, marijuana is legal here. However, if you happen to violate one of the drug laws, it can result in serious consequences. Due to the impact a drug conviction can have on your life, it’s important to know exactly what the laws are.

If you are convicted of a drug crime, it can impact your family, job, and income. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we are ready to help you fight the charges you are facing. We can help build a solid defense for the charges you are facing.

Colorado’s Latest Marijuana Laws

The state of Colorado legalized the use of recreational marijuana in 2012. The state has also legalized medical marijuana; however, you must have a residential identification card, which can be acquired at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

If you want to purchase this substance or consume marijuana, it is required that you must be 21 years old or more. If someone provides retail marijuana to someone under this age, it is charged as a felony.

If you are 21 years old, you can legally purchase one ounce of marijuana at a time from a licensed retail store. You have the right to possess as much as two ounces of this substance at a time in the state, too.

You should note that you must consume your marijuana in designated locations. These include:

  • Lodging: An example would be a hotel. The lodging provider can determine if marijuana can be consumed on their property.
  • Private property: This is your home. If you are a renter, you should check with your landlord before doing this. Some property owners may decide to ban the possession and use of marijuana on their property.

Just like there are places where you can consume marijuana, there are locations where it is illegal to do so. This includes federal lands like ski slopes, national forests, and national parks and public locations like amusement parks, restaurants, businesses, common areas at housing complexes, concert venues, sidewalks, and ski resorts.

It’s also possible for cities and towns in Colorado to set rules regarding marijuana consumption. Because these rules and laws can vary, it’s smart to investigate the local laws and rules before you use or consume marijuana.

Related Article: Can I Use Marijuana While on Parole or Probation in Colorado?

Understanding Colorado’s Schedule Classifications for Illegal Drugs

Just like the federal government, the government in Colorado has separated different types of controlled substances (drugs) into schedules. The schedules are categories created that highlight how likely a drug is to be abused. Drugs in Colorado are separated into the following schedules:

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs include peyote, heroin, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), PCP, and LSD. These are drugs that are likely to be abused and that don’t have any proven medical use.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs in Colorado include methamphetamines, opium, hydrocodone, oxycodone, cocaine, fentanyl, and other drugs with a high likelihood of abuse. However, these drugs also have a proven medical use. If someone abuses these drugs, it can have significant psychological and physical consequences.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, and other drugs that have a lower possibility of abuse than Schedule I and II drugs. However, it can still result in higher levels of dependence.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs include sleep medications like zolpidem, anti-anxiety medications like diazepam, and other drugs with a set medical use and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs.

Schedule V

A Schedule V drug includes over-the-counter medications and certain cough syrups that have a small amount of codeine. These types of drugs have a low potential for abuse and accepted medical use.

A recent law, HB19-1263, changed possession laws related to small amounts of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs from a felony to just a misdemeanor. However, even with misdemeanor charges, you will face serious penalties like fines, probation, and jail time. These can impact your ability to access housing and employment opportunities.

Related Article:Most Common Drug Arrest in Denver

Colorado Drug Penalties Explained

The penalties for Colorado drug crimes vary based on the substances involved, your age, and your actions (for example, distribution or possession).


Marijuana is legal in Colorado; however, driving while high is not legal. It is fine to transport marijuana in your vehicle if you keep it in a sealed container, but you can’t drive across state lines or bring it with you to Denver International Airport.

It is illegal to drive after consuming marijuana, and if caught, you will face DUI charges. Based on state law, the impairment level for marijuana is five nanograms per milliliter of blood.

If you are caught with more than the legal amount of THC in your system while you are driving, you will likely face DUI charges. However, getting a DUI charge with lower amounts of THC in your system is possible if it has impacted your driving ability.

According to the government in Colorado, using 10 mg or more of THC can result in impairment. It’s best to wait a minimum of six hours after you smoke up to 35 mg of THC before driving. For edibles, the waiting time is eight hours for up to 18 mg of THC.

Other Drug Penalties in Colorado

If you possess a controlled substance, the penalties you face depend on the drug you are caught with. For example, if you are caught with under four grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance, it is charged as a level 1 drug misdemeanor until your fourth offense. At this point, the charge is elevated to a level 4 drug felony.

The penalties for a level 1 drug misdemeanor charge include fines of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. After getting out of jail, you can have two additional years of probation for your first two convictions. If you have a third or subsequent offense, then you will face jail time of up to 364 days.

If you are caught selling drugs, the potential penalties are more severe than just possessing them. If you give marijuana to a person under 21, you will face felony charges, which carry penalties of up to $1 million in fines and 32 years in prison.

Related Article: How To Beat A Drug Trafficking Charge In Colorado

Contact an Attorney for Help with Colorado Drug Charges

You can face significant penalties if you are caught with drugs in Colorado. To help protect yourself and your freedom, get in touch with a Colorado criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. Our legal team will help you build a solid defense to help you overcome the charges you face.

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Denver DWAI: Fast Facts

27 October, 2022

In Denver, it’s possible to be charged with a DWAI, which stands for driving while ability impaired. This occurs when you operate a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) over 0.05% but under 0.08%. 

If you are charged with a first-time DWAI in Denver, it’s a misdemeanor, and the consequences for this include the possibility of two days to 180 days in jail, fines ranging from $200 to $500, eight DMV points, and 24 to 48 hours of community service. A Denver DWAI lawyer from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, can further explain subsequent charges and the penalties they bring. 

DWAI-first charges alone won’t result in your license being suspended (this is different from DUI per se charges in Denver). 

Our DWAI law firm can defend your situation if you find yourself in this situation and can provide you with the same quality, professional defense. 

Denver DWAI Defined 

Based on Colorado Revised Statutes, if you drive while your ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs, even in “the slightest degree,” it results in DWAI charges. The state’s DWAI law means you are less able physically or mentally (or both) to operate your vehicle safely. 

Usually, your driving ability is considered impaired in Colorado if your BAC is over .05% but under the legal limit in the state of .08%, which would result in a DUI per se charge.


DWAI charges are considered less serious than DUI charges in Denver (and all of Colorado). DUIs are usually charged if your BAC is a minimum of .08% or more. Typically, DWAI charges are reserved for cases where your BAC is above .05% and under .08%. 

Receiving a first-time DWAI conviction won’t result in your driver’s license being suspended automatically like what happens if you are convicted of a DUI conviction. Also, the community service requirements and fines for a DUI Denver conviction are twice what you receive for a DWAI conviction. 

Proving DWAI in Court 

It’s up to the prosecutor to show you were impaired while driving to get a DWAI conviction. 

Unlike with a Denver DUI, no BAC level makes you guilty of DWAI automatically. There must be actual impairment to prove a DWAI charge. If your BAC was under .08% and your driving wasn’t impaired (in any way), it means you aren’t guilty of DWAI. 

However, if you have a BAC of more than .05% and under .08%, it provides strong evidence that you were driving while impaired. This can be proven by the results of a blood or breath test. 

When you are pulled over, you may be tempted to refuse the chemical test to avoid getting this result. However, it’s important to note that there are serious penalties if you refuse a DUI test in Denver. These penalties include:

  • The automatic suspension of driving privileges in the state
  • Significant fines and potential jail time

In some situations, the prosecution can state that since you refused the test, you were likely guilty of DWAI. 

Potential Penalties for DWAI Conviction in Denver 

The “number” of the offense will include any past convictions for DWAI and DUI in any United States territory or state. The consequences you will face for being convicted of a Colorado DWAI may include the following:

First Offense

  • Two days up to 180 days in jail
  • Fines of $200 up to $500
  • Eight points added to your driving record
  • Between 24 and 48 hours of community service

Second Offense

  • 10-days to one year in jail (for a second offense, 10 days is the minimum mandatory sentence)
  • Fines of $600 to $1,500
  • Eight points added to your driving record
  • Between 48 and 120 hours of community service
  • Two-year driver’s license revocation

Felony DWAI

If you have three or more prior convictions of vehicular assault, DUI, DUI per se, vehicular homicide, or DWAI, then additional DWAI charges are a class 4 felony. 

The potential consequences of a felony DUI conviction in Denver include the following:

  • Two to six years in a Colorado state prison
  • Fines of $2,000 to $500,000
  • Two-year driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory three years of parole

Fighting DWAI Charges 

We recommended contacting our attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, as soon as you can after being charged with a DWAI. We have several options for defending you against these charges. While each case is unique and the defense strategy will vary, some common defenses include:

  • The officer had no probable cause to stop you
  • Your BAC was under 0.5% when you were driving
  • You were not arrested properly or lawfully
  • Your driving wasn’t impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • The arresting officer suspected you of DWAI due to your medical marijuana I.D. card
  • The arresting officer did not read you your rights
  • The breath or blood test was not administered based on the regulations in the state

What to Do When Pulled Over by a Law Enforcement Officer

If you are pulled over, and the officer believes that you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s important to know your rights. You should ensure you never provide the officer with any type of “legal leverage” against you. 

Remember, a police officer must have probable cause to stop you. If there is no probable cause, this can be used as part of your defense strategy. 

Your Rights During a Traffic Stop (and if You Are Suspected of Driving While Impaired)

You have rights during any traffic stop. These include:

  • You are not required to tell the officer what you have consumed. This includes drugs, alcohol, medicine, or food. 
  • You don’t have to tell the officer when the last time was that you consumed drugs or alcohol. 
  • You don’t have to tell the officer the last time that you drove if you are sitting in a vehicle when they are talking to you. 
  • You can refuse to take a field sobriety test. 

You Have the Right to Remain Silent 

It can feel scary and awkward not to answer the questions the police ask you. However, the prosecution can use anything you say to prove you are guilty. When the police are asking you questions, stay calm and be polite when you tell them you decline to answer their questions. 

Some additional tips to keep in mind in this situation include:

  • Never admit to using any type or combination of drugs and alcohol, which includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • Don’t admit to when you last had a drink, even if it was more than 24 hours ago. 
  • Never provide information to the police that can be used against you. 
  • If you are charged with DWAI, contact the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, immediately. 

Remember, even if the police are nice and seem conversational, they aren’t on your side. They can also legally lie to you to get you to admit to something. The police are trying to gather information to prove you are guilty. Don’t give it to them by remaining silent. 

Denver DWAI FAQs

What is the difference between a DUI and DWAI in Denver?

The main difference between a DUI and DWAI is your blood alcohol level. DWAI charges apply when your BAC is at least 0.05% but under 0.08%. You are charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.08 or higher. While both of these crimes carry significant penalties if you are convicted, a DUI conviction is more serious and has more serious consequences. 

A DUI conviction will result in 12 points against your driver’s license, fines of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, license suspension, and community service. After your first offense, the penalties for DUI become even more severe. 

If you are facing DUI charges, you need to have a strong defense and attorney on your side. Our legal team has proven results establishing “reasonable doubt” and poking holes in the evidence presented by the prosecution. An example of this is questioning how accurate the BAC reading was, which can result in a reduced charge (in some situations). 

Is DWAI a criminal charge in Denver?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that DWAI is a criminal charge and can impact your life and future in many ways. Therefore, you should take DWAI charges as seriously as you do DUI charges. Even though the penalties are not as severe as DUI charges, they are still significant. 

You can face legal penalties, which include community service, jail time, and fines. Also, DWAI will go on your criminal record, which may impact many of your rights and future employment. Any type of criminal charge is serious and requires the help of an experienced and reputable attorney. 

Are you required to take a field sobriety test?

If you were stopped because an officer suspected DWAI, you don’t have to consent to any field sobriety test. Until the officer puts you under arrest, you don’t have a legal obligation to provide any information to officers. After being arrested, if you fail to consent to a chemical test, it can result in serious legal penalties. 

The officer must have a reason to place you under arrest. If you don’t provide information to them, it is difficult to justify being arrested. For example, if you are stopped after you consume a single beer, you don’t have to tell the officer what you have consumed, nor do you have to consent to a field test. 

Can you be charged with drunk driving if you are buzzed, not drunk?

In Colorado, it is possible to receive a DWAI charge if you are “buzzed.” A BAC of 0.05% puts you in the range of receiving this. If you are found to have a BAC of .02%, it is a Class A traffic infraction. Remember, there is no safe amount of alcohol to have in your system when you are behind the wheel. 

Don’t Wait to Our Legal Team for Help with Your DWAI Charges 

If you have been charged with DWAI in Denver, contact our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. Our legal team can handle all types of DWAI cases and can help you develop a solid defense and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Remember, these charges can significantly impact your life if you are convicted. Our legal team will be your advocate in these situations. Contact us today.

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Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics

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Holiday Drunk Driving Statistics

05 October, 2022

Every year in the United States, drunk driving accidents result in the deaths of over 10,000 individuals. Around holidays, when social binge drinking happens more frequently, your chances of being engaged in an alcohol-related crash rise. All drunk driving fatalities are avoidable, and tragically, holiday-related fatalities have started to become uncannily predictable.

It is in your best interest to speak with an expert drunk driving attorney to learn about your legal options if you or someone you love was hurt in a drunk driving accident or if a loved one died as a result of injuries sustained in a tragic drunk driving accident.

We have gathered the most compelling holiday drunk driving statistics from throughout the nation, mostly collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (also known as NHTSA), to better understand the trends associated with holiday drinking and driving. We will also explore some DUI and DWAI Colorado-specific statistics as well.

The Current State of Holiday Drunk Driving in the United States

Every day, drunk driving is a concern on our country’s highways, but the holidays are when it happens most frequently. 2018’s New Year’s and Christmas holidays saw 285 fatalities due to drunk driving. All of these fatalities might have been avoided. 10,511 persons lost their lives in drunk driving accidents in 2018, which is about one-third of all collision deaths. The sorrow of these losses is felt all year long, but for many people, the holidays are when it is felt most keenly.

According to the National Safety Council (or NSC), one of the major road safety concerns in the United States is drunk driving. According to the organization’s research, the number of fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired driving rose to 11,654 in 2020, up from 10,196 in 2019, a 14.3% rise, and the highest number since 2009. At least one motorist or motorcycle operator in a drunk auto accident had a blood alcohol content (or BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.

The Law Surrounding Drunk and Intoxicated Driving

Drug-impaired driving is considered illegal in all fifty states, much like drunk driving. In 2017, positive drug tests came back for 45% of the drivers who died in fatal collisions. Drugged driving is dangerous for drivers, passengers, and other road users regardless of how the substance was obtained.

According to Colorado law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, high, or when one’s judgment is otherwise compromised. Although DUI or DWAI can be established in other ways, blood tests and breathalyzers are frequently used in the enforcement of drunk driving legislation. A defendant’s ability to operate a vehicle was likely affected by alcohol if their blood alcohol content was more than 0.05 but less than 0.08 at the time of the alleged offense or within a reasonable period of time afterward. A defendant may be presumed to have been drunk if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 or above.

The reduction in alcohol-related fatalities on American roadways is the result of a number of initiatives, including minimum drinking age regulations and high visibility policing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 1975 to 2017, the implementation of minimum drinking age rules prevented more than 31,000 fatalities.

Preventing Drunk or Intoxicated Driving During the Holidays

Make wise decisions and prepare a safe return route home after the celebration if you have a holiday gathering on the agenda. Make a pledge to be sober at all times if you’re the designated driver to protect your friends and yourself. If you encounter a drunk driver on the road, call your local police department right away. The life of the driver, the passenger, and other people on the road might be saved by doing this. The greatest present you could ever offer a buddy who is ready to drive while intoxicated is to take away their keys and assist them in making plans to get home safely.

Since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the NHTSA has seen that drivers are choosing riskier actions when operating a vehicle, such as driving after intoxication. Make it a goal to always drive sober when the year comes to an end and a new one begins, or around any holiday when drinking may be encouraged.

How Does Colorado Look in the Context of Holiday Drunk Driving?

Some occasions, like New Year’s Eve, may be associated with excessive drinking and partying around the United States. However, according to collision investigation data gathered by the Colorado State Patrol between 2019 and 2021, Labor Day was the most hazardous holiday for injury and mortality automobile wrecks brought on by drunk drivers in Colorado. Through early October, the number of DUI arrests remains largely constant. The Colorado State Patrol detained 4,665 drunk drivers in 2021, with more than 35% of those incidents taking place in the four months from May to August.

The “Stay in Your Lane” year-long campaign by Colorado State Troopers continues its low-tolerance policy toward lane violators. This campaign is intended to serve as a reminder to drivers to adjust their lane position to the conditions of the road. Additionally, it seeks to spread awareness of three of the most prevalent and preventable actions that result in car accidents or traffic citations: hostile driving, driving without paying attention, and drunk driving.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving around the holidays or have been negatively affected by a drunk driving accident, it is absolutely vital to seek out the best DUI law firm Denver has to offer. Denver, CO DUI lawyers can better assess your case and help you get the best possible results.

Trust a Denver Drunk Driving Lawyer to Represent You From The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC

Are you in need of Denver, CO DUI lawyers that have the experience and nuance to fight for your DWAI Colorado case? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC is the ideal DUI law firm Denver has to offer for your unique case.

The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC is a highly regarded Denver DUI law practice with national recognition. By utilizing our aggressive litigation approach and putting our considerable experience in all facets of DUI defense to use, we have established a solid reputation as unyielding, successful Denver DUI attorneys. With more than ten years of expertise and a thorough understanding of Colorado DUI laws, Denver drunk driving lawyer Steven J. Pisani can help you get the best result for your drunk driving accusation.

Don’t delay if you have been accused of DUI; time is of the essence. Our staff at The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC has assisted many people facing DUI accusations. Protect yourself and your future with the aid of our DUI attorneys in Denver. To schedule an initial consultation, contact our company by phone at (303) 529-2825 or online via our contact form. We’ll fight to get your case dropped or to get the damages you deserve after being involved in a drunk driving car accident.

DUI Penalties for Drivers Under Age 21

31 August, 2022

Denver DUI lawyers from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC see multiple cases of DUI charges against people under age 21 every month. One reason for this is Colorado’s strict zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking and driving.

In Denver and throughout Colorado, the maximum Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) someone under 21 can have when driving is 0.02%, which is much lower than the legal limit for people over 21, which is 0.08%. While it’s obvious that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink and drive, it’s also illegal for underage people to purchase, possess, transport, buy, attempt to buy, or drink alcohol.

Not only is drinking and driving illegal, but it’s also extremely dangerous. Alcohol-related accidents are a common cause of death in Denver, and hundreds of teens die each year because of alcohol poisoning.

Potential Consequences of Underage Drinking and Driving in Denver

Underage drinking and driving are very common charges in Denver and throughout the state. Due to how serious the state takes this crime, it also has serious consequences. Anyone under 21 with a BAC of 0.02% to 0.05% caught drinking and driving can face charges.

Minors arrested for Underage Drinking and Driving in Denver may also face DWAI charges if they have a BAC of more than 0.05% and a DUI if their BAC is 0.08% or higher. With this conviction, the penalties are a one-year license revocation for a first offense and may carry other consequences.

The Breakdown of Underage Drinking and Driving Charges and Penalties for Minors

Anyone under 21 must understand the consequences they may face if they are arrested and convicted of UDD in Denver. A breakdown of the charges and all the potential penalties are found here.

First Underage Drinking and Driving Charge – Class A Traffic Infraction

The consequences of a conviction include:

  • Fines of up to $100
  • The requirement to pay court costs and surcharges
  • A maximum of 24 hours of useful public service and an additional $120 fee
  • Alcohol assessment the individual must pay for
  • Alcohol treatment or education the individual must pay for
  • Up to a three-month license revocation
  • Four DMV points

Since this is a traffic infraction and not a criminal charge, minors can request a probationary license called a “red license” after 30 days. They must keep this for the next two months, and the suspension or revocation is required to last for three months total. It’s at the discretion of the DMV to issue this license and is not guaranteed. The minor can only drive to work or school if the license is granted.

Second Underage Drinking and Driving Charge – Class 2 Traffic Misdemeanor

The consequences of a conviction include:

  • 10 to 90 days in jail
  • Up to $300 in fines
  • The requirement to pay court costs and surcharges
  • A maximum of 24 hours of useful public service and an additional $120 fee
  • Alcohol assessment the individual must pay for
  • Alcohol treatment or education the individual must pay for
  • Up to a six-month license revocation
  • Four DMV points

Third or Subsequent Underage Drinking and Driving Charge – Class 2 Traffic Misdemeanor

The consequences of a conviction include:

  • 10 to 90 days in jail
  • Up to $300 in fines
  • The requirement to pay court costs and surcharges
  • A maximum of 24 hours of useful public service and an additional $120 fee
  • Alcohol assessment the individual must pay for
  • Alcohol treatment or education the individual must pay for
  • Up to a 12-month license revocation
  • Four DMV points

With each of these charges, UDD defendants have the right to request a DMV administrative hearing to contest the loss of their license. However, they must win the DMV hearing and criminal case (which are separate) to avoid losing their license. Winning the DMV hearing but still being convicted of UDD will still result in the license revocation.

It’s worth noting that DMV hearings are more challenging to win than criminal cases. In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden to prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the bar is much lower for DMV administrative hearings. Even if it doesn’t seem like a DMV hearing will be successful, requesting one is still a good idea.

Penalties for DWAI and DUI per se Convictions

If a minor has a BAC over 0.05% and under 0.08%, they can face DWAI charges. The penalties for a first offense misdemeanor conviction include:

  • Two to 180 days in jail
  • Fines of $200 to $500
  • Community service requirement of 24 to 48 hours
  • Eight DMV points

If the minor has a BAC of 0.08% or more, they can face DUI per se charges, which is also a misdemeanor. Potential penalties for this charge include:

  • Five days to one year in jail
  • Fines of $600 to $1,000
  • Community service requirement of 48 to 896 hours
  • Nine-month license revocation

How to Fight UDD Charges in Denver

Due to the seriousness of the charges and potential penalties, it is recommended that you get in touch with an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing UDD charges. Our legal team will work to build a defense for your case. Some of the potential defenses that can be used include:

  • The police didn’t have any reasonable suspicion to pull the person over.
  • During the traffic stop, the police didn’t have a basis for suspecting that the person had consumed alcohol, and the officer requested a breath test.
  • The breath test was not administered properly or was defective.

Using the defense that the minor was driving safely and not impaired is impossible. This is because the state of Colorado has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking cases. This means that a UDD is a strict liability offense. UDD laws in Colorado prohibit anyone who is underage from driving with almost any alcohol in their system. This is true even if the alcohol was caused by using mouthwash or eating something made with alcohol.

Don’t Wait to Get Help With Your Underage Drinking and Driving Charge

If you are charged with Underage Drinking and Driving in Denver or anywhere in the state, it’s important to contact our Denver DUI lawyers immediately. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC, we are here to help with your charge and build a solid defense for your case. Thanks to our years of experience in the field, we will provide you with the aggressive legal defense in Denver you need and help you at both your DMV hearing and criminal trial.

The first step is to call our offices and schedule an appointment. We will use our experience and resources to help you beat the charge you are facing.

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Understanding Colorado’s “Make My Day” Law 

11 August, 2022

Our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC believe everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes. However, when someone tries to break in or if there is an intruder, do you have the right to defend yourself, your family, and your home? This is a good question and one we answer here. 

If you are in a situation where you are facing criminal charges and need assistance, our attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani are ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options and our services. 

Keep reading to learn more about the “Make My Day” Law, how it can protect you, and all the details you need to understand. 

Colorado Stands Against Intruders 

The state of Colorado believes that homeowners have the right to feel safe in their homes and protect their property and family if threatened. The “Make My Day Law” grants homeowners immunity if they respond accordingly when threatened by a home invasion and burglary. In some situations, this law may be the only thing that prevents you from going to jail. 

The “Make My Day” law in Colorado was established in 1985. Under this law, homeowners have immunity from any prosecution if they shoot or kill someone breaking into their home if certain conditions are present. 

According to the law, the dwelling’s occupant is considered justified to use any level of physical force, even deadly physical force, against someone who has entered their dwelling unlawfully if the following circumstances apply:

  • The homeowner believes the intruder will, has, or is committing a crime and entering unlawfully. 
  • The homeowner believes the intruder could use physical force against someone in the house. 

Duty of Retreat in Colorado 

According to the Duty of Retreat doctrine, you can only use deadly force as a last resort. Even in cases of self-defense, if you can avoid the risk of death or harm by taking some other action, by running away, this is what you should do. While this is true, there was a ruling that stated you are not bound to run away or retreat before using deadly force if it is reasonable based on your circumstances. 

Unarmed Intruders 

If an intruder is unarmed, the law still applies. It does not matter if the person who comes into your dwelling uninvited has a gun or another weapon or not. If you think they will commit a crime against you, someone in your house, or your property, and you believe they could cause bodily harm, you have the right to protect yourself using any means. You have immunity in these situations from being prosecuted. 

This means that you can use a sword, baseball bat, shotgun, pistol, knife, or any other item you have to help defend yourself. 

Remember, though; not all states grant residents this right. If you travel outside of Colorado, be sure you know your rights when it comes to using deadly force against an intruder. 

Can You Kill Someone in Self-Defense Outside of Your Home?

The Colorado law allows those not in their home to kill someone in cases of self-defense or to defend others if they believe non-deadly force will not be adequate to stop the threat. Also, one of the following elements must exist in the situation: 

  • The victim believes that they or someone else is in imminent damage of a serious injury or death.
  • The person uses physical force against an occupant while they commit or try to commit a burglary. 
  • The person is committing or appears to be committing a sexual assault, robbery, or kidnapping. 

If these conditions are not present, then you can only use force that is “reasonably necessary” to fight away an aggressor. 

Important Stipulations to Colorado’s “Make My Day” Law

A common misconception about the self-defense law in Colorado, and the “Make My Day” law specifically, is that you have the right to shoot anyone who comes onto your property without getting in trouble. This is not the case. 

Using any amount of force against someone isn’t something that’s taken lightly, nor does the law justify killing another person without justification to do so. Hurting someone else or taking their life is a burden, no matter the justification. That’s why it is best to avoid this outcome when possible. 

For example, if someone comes on your property to steal something out of your vehicle or if they vandalize your property, you don’t have the right to shoot them or use other deadly force. For the situation to be considered legal to shoot someone based on this law, the intruder must be inside your home, and you should suspect that they have or will commit some type of crime and that they will harm you or someone else in your home. 

For the “Make My Day” law to apply to your situation, an intruder must be in your dwelling with you and be uninvited. Also, the intruder must be committing a crime along with being inside your home uninvited. 

An example of when the law would apply is if an intruder was threatening your spouse or child. In this case, you can reasonably assume the intruder is going to use force, even if it is slight, against someone in your dwelling. This even applies to situations where the intruder threatened someone with a weapon or just their fist. 

The entire point of the law is to ensure you can defend yourself when in your home without the risk of being prosecuted. However, it isn’t a blanket right to shoot someone who comes on your property. If there’s someone on your property illegally, but they aren’t inside your home, the immunity offered by the “Make My Day” law doesn’t apply to the situation. In this case, you will be held to Colorado’s self-defense law. 

Even if you are inside your home, you don’t have the right to shoot someone who has broken in and actively stolen something if they are not threatening someone in the dwelling with physical harm. 

If you are in public, the laws are unique. This means that the law doesn’t apply in all situations. While you can defend yourself in public, the situation is regulated based on laws other than the “Make My Day” law. 

While Colorado doesn’t impose a duty to retreat, it’s best to avoid violence when you can. If violence happens, it means someone will likely get hurt. Someone else may get arrested and even charged with a criminal offense. When you avoid a possibly violent situation or de-escalate the situation, you are doing what is smart and minimizing the possibility that you will suffer an injury, that you or your loved one will be injured, or that you will be arrested. 

Understanding Your Rights Under Colorado’s Make My Day Law

Understanding your rights based on the “Make My Day” law is important. This will help you avoid using unreasonable force and being charged with a crime. If you are facing criminal charges, our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are ready to help. 

We have handled hundreds of criminal cases and will work to gather evidence to help you build a defense for your situation. Our goal is to help you reach the most agreeable outcome possible for your situation. 

Contact our legal team to discuss your criminal charges and ensure you know your rights and options. Being informed will help you handle any type of criminal charges. 

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